Intel CEO's big stock sale raises questions

Intel CEO's big stock sale raises questions

A security flaw in microprocessors developed by Intel and other companies could allow hackers to gain access to sensitive data, including passwords and other personal data.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off a large portion of his stake in the company months after the chip maker was informed by Google of a significant security vulnerability in its flagship PC processors - but before the problem was publicly known.

Krzanich sold stock and exercised options worth a rough total of $24 million on November 29, reducing his holdings of Intel shares to 245,743 - the minimum required by his contract with the firm.

While Intel claims that the stock sale was part of a planned divestiture, Krzanich (below, right) put the plan in place only in October, the report said.

Google had informed Intel that vulnerability back in June, but the reports were not made public until reports were released this week, an Intel representative told Business Insider, which means that Krzanich was aware of the vulnerability issues prior to his selloff. Now, the CEO is left with just 250,000 shares which fulfill the minimum requirement to continue his job.

According to the Form 4, Krzanich held 495,743 shares before making the transactions listed in the filing. However, the circumstances surrounding the sale may attract the attention of the SEC, particularly given its value, which was in excess of $39 million.

Thus far, Intel has insisted that Krzanich's sale of company stock was unrelated to any revelations regarding the security flaws.

But the sell off could draw even more scrutiny now, given the news about the security vulnerability and the timing of when Intel knew about it. He sold the one chunk of shares at the price of $44.05 while the other lump was traded at $44.55. Despite the representative stating the plan was unrelated, it certainly seems convenient for Krzanich that it occurred before news of the flaws caused shares to drop 3.4 percent on Wednesday.

Intel also says that it does not expect material financial impacts from the design flaw, although it remains too early to know for sure. It's common for a company dealing with security flaws to sit on the information in hopes of fixing the problem before hackers discover the vulnerabilities.

Krzanich disclosed his plan to sell Intel shares in October, according to an SEC filing from Oct. 30.

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