Cambridge Analytica said Tuesday that it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix pending an investigation into comments he made to an undercover reporter that were secretly recorded.
Nix was one of the senior executives from the data consultancy firm caught on video by the UK's Channel 4 saying they'd go beyond using data to hurt a client's rival political candidate. Those tactics, Nix said in a report that aired Monday, included entrapping politicians to influence an election's outcome. The company has ties to the Donald Trump campaign.
"In the view of the board, Mr. Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation," the company said in a statement.
In a separate video that aired Tuesday, Nix boasted about the company's role in Trump's election campaign. He also talked about the company using a secret email system with messages that self-destruct and proxy organizations to spread messages on social media that couldn't be traced back to the firm. And he told the reporter not to worry about any possible US investigations. "I'm absolutely convinced that they have no jurisdiction," Nix said. "We'll say, 'None of your business.'"
Cambridge Analytica denies the allegations made in the Channel 4 report. The company said the videos were "edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business."
The firm is in hot water over its misuse of the data of millions of Facebook users with an apparent aim to manipulate the behavior of voters.
Cambridge Analytica said Chief Data Officer Alexander Tayler will be acting CEO. Tayler attended two of the meetings with the undercover Channel 4 reporter, who was posing as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.
In a statement Monday, Nix said it was a mistake to play along with the reporter's line of questioning about practices like entrapment. "I am aware how this looks, but it is simply not the case, " he said, according to the statement. "I deeply regret my role in the meeting."
Nix also oversees the elections division of SCL Group, of which Cambridge Analytica is an offshoot. SCL Group didn't immediately respond to a question about whether Nix still runs the elections division. According to The New York Times, one of the publications that broke the news about the Facebook scandal over the weekend, Cambridge Analytica is effectively a shell company.
First published March 20, 12:23 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:54 p.m.: Adds more details throughout.
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