Ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica banned from running cos for seven years

Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London on March 20, 2018.(Reuters file)
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London on March 20, 2018.(Reuters file)
Updated on Sep 24, 2020 06:00 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, London | By Prasun Sonwalkar

Alexander Nix, former CEO of controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that worked on projects in India and other countries between 2013 and 2018, was banned on Thursday by the UK government from running companies for seven years.

Officials said that Nix, 45, gave an undertaking that he caused or permitted companies he was associated with to offer ‘unethical services’ to clients that included bribery and honey-trap stings, demonstrating a lack of commercial probity.

Nix gave this undertaking to the government: “From no later than January 2013 to March 2018 I caused or permitted SCL Elections Ltd or companies associated with SCLE to market themselves as offering potentially unethical services to potential clients, thereby demonstrating a lack of commercial probity including: bribery stings and honey trap stings designed to uncover corruption; voter disengagement campaigns; the obtaining of information to discredit political opponents; the anonymous spreading of information.”

From October 5, Nix stands disqualified for seven years from acting as a director or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Nix was a director of SCLE, a company that provided data analytics, marketing and communication services to political and commercial customers. He was also a director of five other connected UK companies: SCL Group Ltd, SCL Social Ltd, SCL Analytics Ltd, SCL Commercial Ltd, and Cambridge Analytica (UK) Ltd.

From 2016, SCL Elections Ltd was included in a rebranding of associated companies which then operated under the trading names Cambridge Analytica, CA Political (Global) and CA Commercial.

SCL Elections and the five connected companies, however, ceased trading following allegations in the UK and US media which created substantial adverse publicity. Some of the accusations against the companies related to allegedly offering potential clients unethical services.

Officials said the unethical services offered by the companies included bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.

Mark Bruce, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Following an extensive investigation, our conclusions were clear that SCL Elections had repeatedly offered shady political services to potential clients over a number of years”.

“Company directors should act with commercial probity and this means acting honestly and correctly. Alexander Nix’s actions did not meet the appropriate standard for a company director and his disqualification from managing limited companies for a significant amount of time is justified in the public interest”.

It emerged in 2018 that up to 87 million Facebook users potentially had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook modified its data sharing app policies since then.

(With inputs from agencies)

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