Equifax CEO steps down after data breach controversy

26 Sep 2017

Equifax is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Image: Sean Pavona/Shutterstock

Richard Smith will retire from his duties as CEO and chair of Equifax, effective immediately.

In a statement made today (26 September), beleaguered credit-reporting firm Equifax announced the departure of CEO and chair Richard Smith.

Board member Mark Feidler is to serve as non-executive chair, while the interim CEO was named as Paulino do Rego Barros Jr, who most recently held the title of Asia Pacific president of Equifax and has worked for the company for seven years.

Feidler stated that Equifax is still focused on the aftermath of the massive data breach that inflicted severe reputational damage on the company.

“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 minimise the risk that something like this happens again.

“Speaking for everyone on the board, I sincerely apologise. We have formed a special committee of the board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken.”

Smith himself said: “Serving as CEO of Equifax has been an honour, and I’m indebted to the 10,000 Equifax employees who have dedicated their lives to making this a better company.

“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.”

The personal information of as many as 143m customers was exposed in the breach that was made public in September. The fallout led to the resignation of two other major Equifax executives on 14 September.

Smith had been the chair of the company since 2005 and, according to The New York Times, he will not receive a bonus this year and will act as an unpaid consultant for up to 90 days following today’s announcement.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects