September 13, 2017

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Urge SEC, DOJ, & FTC to Investigate Equifax Stock Sales Following Data Breach

Bipartisan letter calls on federal agencies to investigate possible insider trading of Equifax securities 

WASHINGTON Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined with a bipartisan group of their colleagues to call for a full investigation into the sale of nearly $2 million in Equifax securities held by high-level Equifax executives shortly after the company learned of a massive cybersecurity breach. The Senators asked the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the stock sale.

Equifax, a major consumer credit reporting agency, recently disclosed that unauthorized parties had obtained sensitive information – such as Social Security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers -- for as many as 143 million people.  The breach is believed to have occurred in May and was discovered internally by Equifax in late July.  Within days of Equifax’s internal discovery of the breach, three top level Equifax executives -- the Chief Financial Officer; the President of U.S. Information Solutions; and the President of Workforce Solutions -- sold large amounts of their shares of Equifax stock, though its customers and the public were not notified until September 7.

Equifax has stated that the three executives were not notified of the breach when they sold shares and exercised options.

In their letter, the Senators express concern about potential insider trading violations: “As part of your investigations, we request that you conduct a thorough examination of any unusual trading, including any atypical options trading, for violations of insider trading law.  To the extent that your investigations uncover any information regarding whether Equifax management employed reasonable measures to ensure the security of the now compromised data prior to this cyber breach, we would appreciate your sharing these details.” 

The bipartisan group of 36 Senators also write: “We request that you spare no effort in your investigations and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault.”  

Click here or see below for the full text of the letter:

September 12, 2017

Dear Chairman Clayton, Attorney General Sessions, and Acting Chairman Ohlhausen:

We write to request that the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission investigate disturbing reports that senior Equifax executives sold more than $1.5 million in Equifax securities within days of a cybersecurity breach that may have compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of as many as 143 million Americans.  In addition, there are reports that Equifax “also lost control of an unspecified number of driver’s license numbers, along with the credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers and credit dispute documents for 182,000.”

As part of your investigations, we request that you conduct a thorough examination of any unusual trading, including any atypical options trading, for violations of insider trading law.  To the extent that your investigations uncover any information regarding whether Equifax management employed reasonable measures to ensure the security of the now compromised data prior to this cyber breach, we would appreciate your sharing these details.   

We request that you spare no effort in your investigations and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault. 

We thank you for your consideration, and we request periodic updates on your progress.

Sincerely