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Former Equifax CEO takes heat over retirement package

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Former Equifax CEO takes heat over retirement package

Former Equifax Inc. Chairman and CEO Richard Smith defended his retirement benefits to senators who battered him with questions over the credit-reporting agency's recent massive data breach.

Smith retired Sept. 26 amid fallout from the breach, which potentially impacted as many as 145.5 million U.S. consumers. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, during an Oct. 4 Senate Banking Committee questioned the former CEO over the compensation he stands to receive.

"I told the board at the time I stepped down I will not take a bonus, there's no severance [and] I'll work for as long as the company needs for free," Smith said. "I've asked for nothing. What I walk away with is a pension that I've earned over my career and unvested equity that was given to me and I've earned in the past."

It was the second straight day Smith was subjected to scrutiny on Capitol Hill, having received many similar questions, and angry responses, from lawmakers on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Oct. 3.

Smith served as Equifax's CEO for 12 years. According to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, and the opinions of industry analysts, he oversaw a period of strong financial and stock performance by the company prior to the breach. His pension was valued at $18.4 million as of Dec. 31, 2016, according an Equifax proxy filing.

"The pension, senator, is something I've earned from my career," Smith said in response to a question from Schatz about the fairness of his retirement package.

According to the proxy filing, Smith as of March 1 owned 62,635 unvested restricted stock units. Each restricted stock unit represents a contingent right to receive one share of common stock.

Smith is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 5.