Cambridge Analytica Parent Company Ceases Operations

A London bus with an ad for dirty washing drives past the offices of Cambridge Analytica on New Oxford Street, the UK tech company accused of harvesting the personal details of Facebook users in its data privacy scandal, on 11th April, 2018, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
In Pictures via Getty Images

Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd., announced in a press release Wednesday that it was ceasing operations.

The press release read in part:

Earlier today, SCL Elections Ltd., as well as certain of its and Cambridge Analytica LLC’s U.K. affiliates (collectively, the “Company” or “Cambridge Analytica”) filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K.  The Company is immediately ceasing all operations and the boards have applied to appoint insolvency practitioners Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP to act as the independent administrator for Cambridge Analytica.

Additionally, parallel bankruptcy proceedings will soon be commenced on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and certain of the Company’s U.S. affiliates in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Cambridge Analytica made national news during the 2016 campaign, when it played a role first in Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) Republican presidential primary campaign, and then in the Trump campaign’s digital operations.

Trump mega-donor Robert Mercer was an investor in Cambridge Analytica when it formally began its work for Trump’s campaign in the summer of 2016. Steve Bannon, who lead Trump’s campaign organization, was previously Cambridge Analytica’s vice president.

Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has now pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, amended disclosure forms in August last year to reflect a consulting relationship with SCL.

Mercer’s daughters Rebekah and Jennifer, along with Cambridge Analytica’s suspended CEO Alexander Nix, were named directors earlier this year at a new company called Emerdata, according to documents reported by Business Insider. So was Johnson Chun Shun Ko, which the report identified as the deputy chairman of a private security firm chaired by Blackwater founder and Trump ally Erik Prince.

The filings show Nix resigned as an Emerdata director in late March. Mother Jones noted Wednesday that two other senior employees at Cambridge Analytica, Chief Data Officer Alexander Taylor and recently-named CEO Julian Wheatland, are also directors at Emerdata.

Emerdata, according to the documents, shares an address with SCL.

The spotlight on Cambridge Analytica only grew with the prominence of Mueller’s probe.

In October of last year, the Daily Beast reported that the company’s CEO had reached out to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the presidential campaign, offering to help him publish the thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The Wall Street Journal reported the same month that Cambridge Analytica had offered to help Assange organize the stolen Democratic emails Wikileaks was publishing at the time.

The Journal reported in December that Mueller had requested documents from the Cambridge Analytica, though an unnamed person familiar with a matter told the outlet the request came before the October reports.

Then, in March of this year, a whistleblower from the company, Christopher Wylie, opened up to media outlets about Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook user data.

Facebook banned the firm, claiming that it had violated a 2015 agreement that it would destroy data initially attained through an academic researcher’s social psychological research app. Hundreds of thousands of people had interacted with the data-gathering app. Tens of millions of Facebook users’ data was revealed to have been compromised.

The British government subsequently announced a probe of both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have mostly escaped heavy scrutiny in the states. Zuckerberg completed two rounds of light questioning from members of Congress in April.

Also in March, just days after Wylie came forward, Nix was suspended after an undercover investigation by BBC’s Channel 4 revealed what he offered an actor posing as a potential political client: Cambridge Analytica, Nix told the actor, employed former intelligence officials and attractive women to entrap its clients’ political opponents and stir up damaging scandals.

This post has been updated.

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