Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) has announced on Tuesday that CEO Richard Smith will retire, effective on September 26, 2017. Smith’s retirement comes shortly after the major Equifax data breach that compromised 143 million social security numbers including other private information.
The Board of Directors appointed Mark Feidler to serve as a Non-Executive Chairman. Paulino de Rego Barros Jr, who served as President of Asia Pacific, has been appointed interim CEO, succeeding Smith.
The Board will begin its process and search for a new CEO, taking consideration of candidates both inside and outside the company. Smith has also agreed to serve as an unpaid adviser to Equifax during the transition period.
Mark Feidler stated, "The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident. We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize.”
The data breach Equifax faced was not a known issue within the company until July, but the breach was also not publicly disclosed until September. Along with the 143 million consumer’s social security numbers, other personal accounts and information, such as over 200,000 credit cards and roughly 182,000 documents, were accessed by the hackers.
The hack was quickly reacted by the public stating that Equifax purposely delayed to report the matter to consumers, which caused concern. Eventually, the hack lead the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation and probe into the cyberattack.
Equifax executives are also being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department after selling their stocks before the company publicly announced the data breach.
"Serving as CEO of Equifax has been an honor, and I'm indebted to the 10,000 Equifax employees who have dedicated their lives to making this a better company.” Richard Smith said.
"The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right. At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward," Smith added.