Ant Financial, a fully-owned subsidiary of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group has denied reports linking it to the malicious attack on Equifax.
Equifax is a global personal credit rating company that was hit by a severe hack that stole virtually all the personal and financial data of its millions of customers.
Ant Financial responded to a report by the Wall Street Journal which linked the company to the hack on the allegation that it hired hired China-born Canadian David Zou from Equifax who perpetrated the theft of the information.
The medium claimed that Zou looked up employee information to gauge potential hires and squirreled away confidential documents via his personal email account.
However, Ant said in a statement signed by its lawyer, Leiming Chen:
Today, the Wall Street Journal published a story that contains false information about Ant Financial based on unsubstantiated allegations from anonymous sources. The story is full of innuendo based on disjointed facts and coincidence in timing. We want to set the record straight.
Ant Financial did not use Equifax intellectual property or trade secrets, including code, algorithms or methodology in the development of our credit rating product. Ant Financial has found absolutely no evidence of Equifax software, data or code having been transferred to our systems.
We did not directly or indirectly encourage potential job applicants to obtain Equifax intellectual property or trade secrets. This would be a violation of Ant Financial’s Code of Business Conduct and we would take immediate action against any employee found engaging in this behavior. Further, we have specific agreements with our third-party recruiters that prohibit them from violating intellectual property rights of any parties. If any recruiter is found to have conducted such activities, we will stop accepting candidate referrals from them and may take legal action against them.
Ant Financial was never “asked” or directed by the Chinese government to develop our commercial credit scoring product, Zhima Credit, or “credit-scoring services.” Zhima Credit was independently developed by Ant Financial purely as a commercial product.
We provided the Wall Street Journal with facts establishing the falsity of its reporting, including documents, on-the-record statements and an in-person interview with the employee at the center of the events.
Neither Equifax nor any government investigators ever contacted Ant Financial about the allegations reported by the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the article reports that Equifax stopped cooperating with the FBI in its investigation, and “[t]he U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta ultimately determined it didn’t have evidence the suspected thefts were directed by the Chinese government.”
We leave it to public opinion to judge if anyone should try to prosecute a case in the press when there is insufficient evidence under proper regulatory and legal framework. We also condemn any attempt by anyone to divert the attention on Equifax’s responsibility in allowing the breach of personal data of over 140 million Americans by pointing fingers at someone else.
Integrity is at the core of Ant Financial’s corporate values and cultural fabric. It is insulting to us and unfortunate that the Wall Street Journal ignored the facts, and instead printed a misleading story with false claims. The story not only promotes hostility against a specific company, but also paints an overall narrative that maligns Chinese companies as a whole, and further promotes culturally divisive perceptions of ethnic Chinese people in America.
We are committed to protecting the reputation of Ant Financial, which is trusted by 870 million users around the world.