Morning Scan Equifax CEO Smith 'retires'; Senators scold SEC chief

Thursday, 28 Sep, 2017

Smith, 57, had been CEO for 12 years. The company confirmed that his retirement is immediate.

The company said in an early Tuesday statement that Smith will "retire" after more than a decade at the company.

A regulatory filing on the shakeup Tuesday said Smith would waive any right to an annual bonus under his contract and would provide "reasonable assistance" to the company without compensation for 90 days.

Equifax's almost six-week delay in notifying the public about the intrusion into its vast database of sensitive information - and the bungled handling of potential fixes - led to an outcry from consumers and lawmakers as well as state and federal investigations.

Equifax is one three major companies that track the credit histories of nearly all Americans and sell that sensitive information to banks, credit card companies and other clients.

The fate of "any obligations or benefits owed" to Smith hinges on the results of the board of directors' independent review. "Equifax made a bad situation worse".

For some people, appropriate action would be to shut down Equifax entirely, given that its entire business model is securing the personal information of consumers-who can not opt out of having their data collected by Equifax. As a credit monitoring service, Equifax holds data on almost every single American who has a credit card or has applied for a loan.

It set up a web domain to host customer service complaints, then repeatedly linked to a fake phishing site on its social media page. The three executives who sold shares, including Equifax's chief financial officer, are under scrutiny. "It's up to the committee to decide if they want another executive", an Equifax spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Equifax CSO David Webb and CIO Susan Mauldin also retired shortly after this incident.

The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Equifax breach for October 4, at which Smith is expected to testify.

The Atlanta-based company said Smith is retiring effective immediately - and that board member Mark Feidler will take over as executive chairman.

Feidler continued: "Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize".

So far Equifax has handled the data breach poorly, and winning back consumer trust will certainly be hard for the company but Smith stepping down as CEO is a step in the right direction.

Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., who most recently served as president of Equifax's Asia-Pacific business, has been named interim CEO.

Smith isn't the only one out of a job. It also seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation of the law and a court order requiring Equifax to implement and maintain appropriate security procedures for highly sensitive information. In 2014, Target's CEO Gregg Steinhafel left his company five months after a data breach at the retail chain put the personal information of more than 70 million American consumers at risk.