Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Alibaba, pushed back on a Wall Street Journal report that alleged the company used Equifax intellectual property to create its credit rating product.
In a press release, Ant Financial General Counsel Leiming Chen claimed the report included “false information” that was “based on unsubstantiated allegations from anonymous sources.” The executive said Ant Financial didn’t use Equifax intellectual property or trade secrets including software code, algorithms or methodology to develop its product for rating customers’ creditworthiness.
“Ant Financial has found absolutely no evidence of Equifax software, data or code having been transferred to our systems,” wrote Chen. “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.”
The company went on to say that it was never asked or told by the Chinese government to create a commercial credit scoring product, saying it was independently developed by Ant Financial as a purely commercial product. Chen added that the company provided The Wall Street Journal with facts that showed the reporting was inaccurate, including documents, on-the-record statements and in-person interviews with the employee at the center of the allegations. What’s more, Chen said Equifax nor any government investigators have never contacted Ant Financial about the claims.
“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,” wrote the company attorney.
The Wall Street Journal reported that security officials at Equifax were worried that former employees had stolen thousands of pages of proprietary information before leaving the company and going to work in China. The materials included code for new products, human resources files and manuals.