Title Cambridge Analytica chief 'withdrew $8m' from firm before its collapse | Daily Mail Online

Publication Date 2018-06-06

Text The polo-loving boss of Cambridge Analytica has today said had got 'carried away' and was 'foolish' when he said his firm would use 'beautiful girls' to seduce politicians.

Alexander Nix faced MPs and told them that an undercover film where he claimed Ukrainian prostitutes 'worked well' for honeytraps was a 'lie' to impress potential clients.

Mr Nix was suspended as Chief Executive of CA in March after it emerged that it was mining Facebook accounts and selling the data on without permission and it has since gone bust.

The millionaire was called back to Parliament to clarify evidence he gave in February after an embarrassing Channel 4 documentary showed him bragging about 'dark arts' used to win elections for clients around the world.

He said: 'That was all a lie. For me to get carried away was deeply embarrassing but something I regret enormously because of the impact on my company and also my staff'.

Nix said he was 'entrapped' and the victim of a media conspiracy claiming the extraordinary things he said were 'overzealousness to secure a contract' and 'tell a client what we thought he wanted to hear'.

Alexander Nix said that extraordinary claims he made about sex workers, spies and influencing elections was all lies and hyperbole to impress clients

Alexander Nix arrived at Parliament and denied he had $8million withdrawn from Cambridge Analytica as the Facebook crisis started

Mr Nix (right) faced a worldwide media storm in March after he was secretly filmed appearing to suggest the firm use 'beautiful' Ukrainian sex workers to seduce politicians (pictured) - he said it was a 'lie' today

Channel 4 has responded furiously to his claims the documentary was 'heavily edited' and aimed at portraying him and Cambridge Analytica 'in the worst possible light'.

A spokesman said: 'What Mr Nix actually said to our reporter and which was broadcast by Channel 4 News and watched by over 3-million people was that his caveat "they're just examples of what can be done" was followed by "and what has been done".

'His comments about entrapment to our reporter were not solicited by our undercover reporter, and his comments about using "Ukrainian girls" were made unprompted'.

Mr Nix was also asked about reports if he withdrew $8million from the firm before its collapse because of the Facebook data scandal and said this was false and claimed he had been secretly investing 'millions' to pay staff wages, bonuses and redundancy payments.

Mr Nix allegedly withdrew the cash just after the British media revealed Cambridge Analytica was selling data mined from millions of Facebook members.

The new allegations over a $8million loan came from disgruntled shareholders who say Mr Nix must repay the money to CA staff and investors.

These critics, who have spoken to the Financial Times, say Mr Nix and other bosses set up a new company called Emerdata as part of a plan to rebrand CA and its parent company SCL whose reputations have been badly tarnished.

Emerdata raised $19million from investors around the world but the money ran out and insiders claim $8.2million was sent to CA in the form of a loan.

Bankruptcy documents filed in New York seen by the newspaper show that the cash is classed a 'non-priority' and may never have to be paid back.

The FT has reported that Nix has indicated he will pay back some of the money, said to diverted for unpaid services, but he is facing pressure to return it all.

Mr Nix said today that the story was false and in the past three months he had personally paid millions in for staff pay and bonuses.

Alexander Nic has been recalled to face MPs today over evidence he gave them in February (pictured)

Mr Nix, a polo loving millionaire (pictured centre), was suspended from the company and has not commented on allegations about the $8million loan

He started his evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee with a row over his appearance and kept trying to read a prepared statement.

He denied he didn't want to attend but admitted he wanted any hearing to be postponed or held behind closed doors.

He accepted his answers in February - when he denied working with the Leave.EU campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum - 'could have been clearer'.

But he was interrupted by committee chair Damian Collins, who insisted he would not allow witnesses to read out prepared statements, rather than responding to questions from the cross-party panel of MPs.

Mr Nix (pictured in March) has been summoned to Parliament 'clarify his original evidence' after he declined to turn up in April

After Mr Nix made several attempts to restart the statement, Mr Collins cut him short, telling him: 'The way this works is we ask questions and witnesses answer them.'

The former CA boss told him: 'Mr Collins, you will have plenty of opportunity to ask me as many questions as you want, but I have to insist on delivering the rest of this statement.'

Mr Collins responded: 'I'm sorry, Mr Nix, it is not your place to insist on anything in front of this committee.'

Mr Nix faced a worldwide media storm in March after he was secretly filmed appearing to suggest the firm use 'beautiful' Ukrainian sex workers to seduce politicians as part of its lucrative election work.

He was also recorded boasting about the firm's work during the Donald Trump presidential campaign, saying: 'We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy.'

Nix said its data on voters wins elections and his company made huge sums working with politicians around the globe.

Facebook had given CA access to the personal data of tens of millions of users, without the users' knowledge - they claimed the company lied to them and they had no idea they would sell it on.

There were calls for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to resign and he saw £5.3billion wiped off his £48billion personal fortune yesterday due to a plunge in the social media company's share price.

Since then Zuckerberg has been forced to apologise and try to rebuild trust with users about the safety of their data.

Alexander Nix is at Parliament today and has been recalled to give evidence to an inquiry into fake news.

The businessman first appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee in February.

Weeks later CA was suspended by Facebook amid allegations it amassed data on millions of voters from their profiles and misused it.

Among the allegations were claims the information was used to target voters during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign, while a whistleblower has claimed the firm had links to pro-Brexit campaigners.

On Monday, the head of Britain's data watchdog said she was 'deeply concerned' about the impact on democracy of the misuse of social media users' personal information.

The committee first recalled Mr Nix to appear before them on April 18 to 'clarify his original evidence'.

After agreeing to attend he then declined, but he was issued with a formal summons by MPs.

The scandal that erupted around CA's alleged misuse of Facebook data saw the social media giant's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, issue a series of public apologies.

The billionaire went before the US Congress and has been asked to appear before the DCMS committee.

Mark Zuckerberg's fortune and reputation have been badly damaged by the scandal, pictured facing Congress where he issued a humbling apology

Chairman Damian Collins wrote to Facebook on May 1 after Mike Schroepfer, the network's chief technology officer, spoke to the committee.

Mr Collins said his evidence 'lacked many of the important details we need' and re-stated Mr Zuckerberg's invitation.

'It is worth noting that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country,' Mr Collins wrote.

'We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.'

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the European Parliament's inquiry into the CA affair that legal systems had failed to keep up with the rapid and unforeseen development of the internet.

Ms Denham said that her office's investigation, triggered by allegations of misuse of Facebook users' personal data, was 'unprecedented in its scale' and thought to be the largest undertaken by any data protection authority in the world.


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