Alexander Nix, the former boss of Cambridge Analytica, has been banned from serving as a company director for seven years over “potentially unethical” behaviour linked to his position at the centre of a global scandal.
The Insolvency Service said Nix had allowed companies to offer potentially unethical services, including “bribery or honey-trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns”.
Nix did not dispute that he caused or permitted Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Elections to offer such services, behaviour “demonstrating a lack of commercial probity” according to the Insolvency Service.
The Old Etonian and former financial analyst will be disqualified from holding directorships, or from promoting, forming or managing a company, starting from 5 October, 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,” said the Insolvency Service chief investigator, Mark Bruce.
“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.”
SCL Elections and five connected companies ceased trading in 2018 following revelations in the Observer about its role in harvesting data about millions of voters from social media sites such as Facebook, for use by Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Cambridge Analytica was found to have used the data to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.
The fallout from the scandal included a scathing report by the House of Commons digital, culture media and sport select committee, which labelled Facebook “digital gangsters” who had tried to obstruct the MPs’ inquiry and had done little to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.
Facebook also agreed to pay a record $5bn (£3.9bn) fine in the US, as well as a £500,000 fine – the highest possible – to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office over the scandal.