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Indian techie’s hand in insider trading

ATLANTA, GA – An Indian American former software developer for Equifax faces insider trading charges related to the company’s massive data breach last year.

Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu, 44, used nonpublic information to determine Equifax had been breached last year before any public announcement and then bought put options that he exercised for a profit of more than $75,000 after the breach was announced, according to a court filing.

Bonthu, an Indian citizen, entered a not-guilty plea on June 28 before US Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman, who indicated the case would be referred to a US district judge for a guilty plea at a later date.

Bonthu was allowed to remain free on a $20,000 signature bond, which means he doesn’t have to pay anything unless he fails to appear for hearings.

Bonthu is the second former employee of the Atlanta-based credit reporting company to face insider trading charges related to last year’s data breach. Jun Ying, former chief information officer of Equifax’s US Information Solutions, was indicted in March. The Securities and Exchange Commission on June 27 also charged Ying with insider trading. Ying has pleaded not guilty.

A total of about 147.9 million Americans have been affected by Equifax’s data breach, which was disclosed to the public Sept. 7.

Equifax shares plunged in value after the company disclosed the breach Sept. 7. Bonthu exercised his put options for a profit of more than $75,000, the court filing says.

Equifax chief financial officer John Gamble and three other executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million days after Equifax discovered suspicious activity on its network, but Equifax said an independent committee determined that these executives did not know of the breach when their trades were made.