|Photo by Sergey Nivens via 123RF|
Equifax announced September 26 that Richard Smith, its Chief Executive, will be stepping down.
The announcement comes in the wake of the cyber hacking earlier this month in which 143 million Equifax customers’ personal information was breached.
Equifax has been under the gun ever since the breach. Federal lawmakers and consumers alike have hammered the company on its handling of the issue. Equifax is facing several federal investigations involving its handling of the hack and reports that executives sold an unusual amount of stock before the breach was publicly disclosed earlier in the month. The hackers gained access to Social Security numbers, birth dates, and home addresses for close to half of the citizens in the United States.
Board member Mark Feidler will step in as the nonexecutive chairman, and Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who led the company's Asia Pacific division, will become the interim chief executive. according to a statement released Tuesday by Equifax.
Smith released a statement saying, “The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right.” he added, “At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward.”
The 57-year-old Smith was chairman and chief executive since 2005. He worked at GE for 22 years before that. Smith had a great run at Equifax as the company saw its stock prices rise 200 percent, while its market value ballooned from $3 billion to $20 billion. Smith was also behind helping expand the company’s business into 24 countries.
Diving into the numbers Smith received a compensation of $15 million if salary, stock, and changes in pension value are factored in. However, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Smith won’t receive any bonuses this year, although he will receive his pension of $18 million. While there are still some decisions to be made about some additional benefits to be given to Smith, these are being postponed until a sufficient and independent review is conducted by the board of directors. Equifax states that the board is creating a special committee that will further look into the breach.
Smith will remain as an unpaid adviser until they find a permanent replacement, according to the board.