Richard Smith, the chairman and CEO of credit reporting company Equifax, has abruptly retired, the company said Tuesday.
Smith, who had been chairman and CEO since 2005, appears to be the third executive to lose his job in the fallout from the company’s massive data breach, in which Equifax lost sensitive financial information on 143 million Americans. The company’s chief security officer and chief information officer also “retired” earlier this month following disclosure of the breach, which leaves many Americans at heighted risk of identity theft and financial fraud.
Bloomberg’s Stephen Gandel reported on Tuesday that Smith’s exit package looks to include a $7.6 million bonus early next year and an additional $11 million bonus at the end of next year.
The company announced that Mark Feidler, a current board member, will take over as non-executive chairman. Feidler has been an Equifax board member since 2007.
President of Equifax’s Asia-Pacific region, Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., has been named interim CEO.
In recent weeks, Smith has been heavily criticized for the company’s cybersecurity posture prior to the breach and its incident response, which included numerous gaffes. In particular, Smith was widely criticized for his apology to affected consumers.
Smith is still scheduled to testify about the security breach before Congress on Oct. 3.
Feidler said in a statement released Tuesday, “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.”
In the same statement, 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.”
According to company filings, Smith’s 2016 compensation package included a $1.45 million base salary and a $3.045 million bonus. The company said Smith will not receive a bonus for 2017.
The $18.6 million in bonuses that Smith appears to qualify for next year, Bloomberg reports, are in addition to $52 million in stock and other retirement benefits he accrued during 12 years as CEO. Bloomberg reported that Smith could also be entitled to lifetime health insurance and $60,000 worth of financial planning and tax advice.
Equifax’s “clawback policy” does not apply to Smith’s bonuses, Bloomberg reported.
During a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton dodged several questions about financial clawbacks for executives whose companies fall victim to data breaches.