Alexander Nix, the former Cambridge Analytica chief, has been banned from serving as a company director for seven years for allowing companies to offer “potentially unethical services”, the UK government’s Insolvency Service said in a statement on Thursday.
A worldwide scandal erupted around the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica in 2018 following a Facebook data harvesting scandal exposed by Christopher Wylie, a former employee-turned-whistleblower.
The firm had used personal information harvested from tens of millions of Facebook users without their permission to build a system that could target US voters with personalised political advertisements based upon their psychological profiles.
Nix did not dispute that he caused or permitted SCL Elections Ltd or associated companies to market themselves as offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients, “demonstrating a lack of commercial probity”.
Such unethical services offered by Nix’s companies included bribery, honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns, the statement said.
Links between the parent organisation of the company, SCL Group, Henley & Partners chairman Christian Kalin and, prior to the 2013 elections, former Labour Party Leader Joseph Muscat, had also been noted by the UK Parliamentary Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
“We understand that SCL certainly had meetings in Malta and that Christian Kalin of Henley & Partners was introduced by SCL to Joseph Muscat in 2011, and that Christian Kalin met with both political parties before 2013,” the committee report stated.
Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had spoken about the link between Cambridge Analytica, Henley & Partners and Muscat, saying that “almost certainly” Henley & Partners had paid for the services of Cambridge Analytica for the benefit of the Labour Party. Henley & Partners denied the link. The government had also denied links between Muscat and SCL.
On Thursday, Insolvency Service Chief Investigator Mark Bruce said that following the report’s conclusions, investigations “clearly” showed that “SCL Elections had repeatedly offered shady political services to potential clients over a number of years”.
Nix is now disqualified from acting as a director, or directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation, or management of a company, without the permission of the court.
All six of Nix’s companies, SCL Group Ltd, SCL Social Ltd, SCL Analytics Ltd, SCL Commercial Ltd, and Cambridge Analytica (UK) Ltd and SCL Elections Ltd, entered into compulsory liquidation in April 2019.
“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,” said Bruce.