Atlanta, March 7, 2019 – Jun Ying, who committed insider trading by exercising his company stock options ahead of Equifax’s public announcement of its massive data breach, pleaded guilty to a charge of securities fraud.
“Insider trading is an abuse of trust and victimizes everyone who invests in the stock market,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Our office will continue its work to keep the stock market fair for all investors.”
“We must not allow company insiders to have an advantage over regular investors, otherwise the integrity of the markets and confidence of investors deteriorates,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will do everything in its power to maintain a fair and equitable stock market for everyone.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During the summer of 2017, Equifax was the victim of a data breach, where hackers acquired names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of over 145 million Americans. At the time, Jun Ying was the chief information officer of Equifax U.S. Information Solutions. In that role, he was provided sensitive information that led him to conclude that Equifax was the victim of the data breach before it was made public.
On Friday, August 25, 2017, Ying texted a co-worker that the breach they were working on “Sounds bad. We may be the one breached.” The following Monday, Ying conducted web searches on the impact of Experian’s 2015 data breach on its stock price. Later that morning, Ying exercised all of his stock options, resulting in him receiving 6,815 shares of Equifax stock, which he then sold. He received proceeds of over $950,000, and realized a gain of over $480,000, thereby avoiding a loss of over $117,000. On September 7, 2017, Equifax publicly announced its data breach, which resulted in its stock price falling.
Ying is the second Equifax employee to be found guilty of insider trading relating to the data breach following Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu, a former manager at Equifax, who pleaded guilty on July 23, 2018.
Sentencing for Jun Ying, 43, of Atlanta, Georgia, is scheduled for June 27, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.