Equifax CEO and Chairman of the Board, Richard Smith, announced he is retiring, effective Sept. 26, amid the massive data breach the credit bureau continues to deal with.
“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,” Smith said in the announcement.
“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,” he added.
At the start of the month, Equifax, one of the nation’s three largest credit reporting agencies, revealed a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers to hackers.
The news threw the credit bureau into the spotlight of some of the biggest government agencies, as they investigate the situation to uncover the extent of the impact on millions on consumers.
As it stands, the company is already facing inquiries from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the House Financial Services Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and a lawsuit from the state of Massachusetts over the breach.
Heads first started to roll earlier this month when two of the executives charged with the security of Equifax’s credit data left the company.
The announcement gave little detail on the matter though, only stating that the company’s chief information officer and chief security officer are “retiring” immediately. The release announcing the two executives’ departure didn’t even list them by name.
According to the announcement on Smith retiring, the board said it will start searching for a new permanent CEO, considering candidates both from within and outside the company. Smith has agreed to serve as an unpaid adviser to Equifax to assist in the transition.
The board of directors appointed Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., who most recently served as president, Asia Pacific, and is a seven-year veteran of the company, as interim CEO. The board also appointed current board member, Mark Feidler, to serve as non-executive chairman.
Paulino Barros, who is stepping in as interim CEO, most recently led the company’s Asia-Pacific business, which includes the largest acquisition in Equifax’s history – Veda, the leading provider of credit information and analysis in Australia and New Zealand.
Previously, Barros led the company’s U.S. Information Solutions business and prior to that led the company’s International business unit. Before coming to Equifax, Barros founded and served as president of PB&C – Global Investments.
“The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident,” Feidler stated.
“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,” said Feidler. “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.”