Intel CEO Brian Krzanick reportedly sold $24m (£18m) worth of company stock and options in November 2017 after learning about Meltdown and Spectre — the two related major security vulnerabilities that affect nearly every Intel chip processor in the world.
The Meltdown and Spectre bugs, which can allow hackers to steal a wide range of sensitive user data, were made public earlier this week and has since sent chip makers and OS vendors scrambling to push out patches.
The company has, however, denied that the stock sale was related in any way with the warning about the bugs.
"It wasn't something where I had information that allowed me to trade," Krzanich said, as quoted by CNet. "Intel has a very rigorous process for how I manage my stock. I have a stock trading plan that is defined over time, so when stocks sell it's defined up front and I have no control over that. Those [plans] are reviewed by the company."
Krzanick still owns 250,000 shares as required by his employment contract. "To me, 250,000 shares is still quite a bit of stock to be owning," he reportedly added. "I'm a strong believer in Intel's stock. That's a large amount of my net worth, and I'm passionate about Intel's future."
Google informed Intel about the chip flaws in June 2017, indicating that the firm was aware about the issue when Krzanick reportedly scheduled the stock sales on 30 October 2017, according to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filing.
ArsTechnica reported that although Krzanick's stock sale stuck to the corporate laws, the timing of the sale and the length of time that Intel chose to keep the news of the vulnerabilities secret, could still result in increased scrutiny from the SEC .
Krzanick's stock sale resulted in a $24m windfall for the CEO. ArsTechnica added that Intel's current stock is around the same price as when Krzanick sold the company's stock.
Business Insider quoted an Intel representative as saying that Krzanich's sale was unrelated to the newly-disclosed chip vulnerability and was part of a standard stock sale plan.
"Brian's sale is unrelated," the representative reportedly said in the statement, adding, "He continues to hold shares in-line with corporate guidelines."