Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off a large chunk of his stake in the company last year — after the chipmaker was already aware of serious security flaws in its computer processors, according to multiple reports.
The chipmaker did not immediately respond to CNBC's emailed request for comments sent outside U.S. office hours.
Other outlets have reported an Intel spokeswoman said Krzanich's decision to sell the shares was unrelated to the security vulnerability disclosed this week.
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in late November, Krzanich acquired and sold 644,135 shares at a weighted average price of $44.05 by exercising his options. Those options let him purchase the shares at prices between $12.985 and $26.795, significantly lower than where Intel was trading at the time.
He sold another 245,743 shares that he already owned at a weighted average of $44.55. That brought down the total number of shares he owns to 250,000 — which is the minimum number of shares that the CEO of Intel is required to own, according to a Motley Fool report. Krzanich sold all of those shares for a little over $39 million, apparently netting about $25 million.
The filing showed that the sales were part of a 10b5-1 plan, which was created on Oct. 30, just a month before Krzanich sold the shares. The 10b5-1 is a trading plan that company executives set up to sell stocks they own at a pre-determined time so that they are not accused of insider trading.
Multiple outlets, however, have reported that Intel and other chip makers were notified of the security vulnerabilities in June.
Security researchers released documentation this week of critical vulnerabilities in modern processors used on almost every computer around the world. The hardware bugs — known as Meltdown and Spectre could allow programs to steal data including "passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents."
While Meltdown is specific to Intel processors, and can be patched, Spectre affects Intel, AMD and ARM processors — meaning almost every device that uses a chip — and is harder to fix. That sent the computer industry scrambling to patch those vulnerabilities. Though there are no known exploits for the problem yet, what is alarming is the fact that it can potentially affect millions of devices.