Intel’s CEO sold off $39 million in stock after company was told about security flaw

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich
Image: Getty Images

Intel’s CEO reportedly sold $24 million worth of company stock and options after being informed of a serious security flaw in its chips — but before the flaw became publicly known. 

The stock sale was first reported by Business Insider.

In late 2017, Brian Krzanich, who has been chief executive of Intel since May 2013, sold as much stock as he was contractually allowed. Executives routinely sell stock, but this move caused some suspicion at the time for just how much stock Krzanich sold. 

Months later, news broke that two massive security flaws had been found in variety of computer chips — with Intel’s hardware being under particular scrutiny.

The timing here is crucial. The security flaw was first discovered by Google researchers, who told Intel about the problem in June, according to a statement Intel gave to Business Insider. 

Then, in November, Krzanich sold off $39 million of stock for a tidy profit of $25 million, according to CNBC

Intel representatives have claimed the sale was part of the CEO’s stock plan. Business Insider adeptly pointed out that this plan was put in place at the end of October — well after the company had been informed of the security issues.

To say that this looks bad would be to put it as mildly as possible. 

Executive stock sales are closely watched to make sure they’re not doing… almost exactly what Krzanich just did. At the very least, he’ll be expected to offer some justification for his stock sale. At worst, he could face an investigation from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. 

Intel shares fell sharply after news of the security issues went public. Its stock is down about 3 percent in the past five days.

Image: Google Finance

Krzanich isn’t the only tech exec who has recently come under fire to suspicious stock sales ahead of security issues. Equifax execs sold almost $2 million worth of stock in the days after learning about its company’s massive security breach.

Kraznich is a big deal in the business world. In December, Forbes Intel as the top “corporate citizen” for its positive impact and treatment of employees. 

That put Kraznich on its cover.

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