Cambridge Analyticas former directors remain under pressure from a U.K. investigation into misuse of personal data, though their company has shut down and many of its executives joined a new entity, people leading the probe said Thursday.
And the new firm will get the once over, too.
Though the data mining firm at the center of a global outrage over misuse of private Facebook data is closed, according to an announcement on its website Wednesday, several of the firms former directors have joined a new company called Emerdata over the last few months, according to companys filings, which raises questions about the status of inquiries into the previous firms activities.
Britains Information Commissioners Office (ICO) said Thursday it would “continue its civil and criminal investigations” and “seek to pursue individuals and directors, as appropriate and necessary even where companies may no longer be operating.”
British affiliate SCL Group, which served as parent company for Cambridge Analytica, is also closing. Both companies began insolvency proceedings in the U.S. and U.K. this week.
Cambridge Analytica also faces challenges in Germany, Italy and Ireland.
Insolvency wont shield former company directors from legal scrutiny, which focuses on their individual actions and not the corporate entity, the ICO regulator said, adding it would also examine the activities of any “successor companies” linked to Cambridge Analytica.
And Damian Collins, who chairs a Westminster parliamentary committee also investigating the data scandal, said on Twitter that “Cambridge Analytica and SCL group cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing. The investigations into their work are vital.”
Much of the scrutiny comes from the U.K., but Cambridge Analytica also faces challenges in Germany, Italy and Ireland, where data protection authorities have presented the firm with lists of detailed questions pertaining to the data transfers.
The U.K. investigation looks at people including Alexander Nix, former chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica; Alexander Taylor, its former chief data officer who served briefly as acting chief executive officer; and others who were involved in work that Cambridge Analytica carried out for Donald Trumps 2016 campaign for the U.S. presidency.
Emerdata, a new firm whose board members include the daughters of hedge fund tycoon and Trump-backer Robert Mercer, is based in Canary Wharf in London. Its initial certificate of incorporation dates back to August 2017, and it has since expanded its list of directors to include a series of key figures involved in the data misuse scandal that affected up to 87 million people worldwide and 2.7 million Europeans. Mercer was a key financial backer of Trumps 2016 presidential campaign.
“We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded,” the ICO said in its statement, referring to Emerdata.
Taylor was recently appointed director of Emerdata. Nix was appointed director in January, though his role ended in March. Julian Wheatland, chairman of SCL Group that included Cambridge Analytica in its portfolio of companies, created Emerdata last summer, the filings show.
New documents filed with the Companies House this week, which will be available within days, show the group has divided financial stakes in the new company. Emerdatas filings were first reported by Business Insider.