🔥💰🇷🇺Mercer is the Bad Boy of Brexit few in the UK have heard of. A hedge-fund billionaire and one of Trump’s biggest donors, he was a leading financial backer of Cambridge Analytica and owns the intellectual property (IP) rights to AggregateIQ – two data firms that were employed by the two different Leave campaigns. The two companies claim to have acted wholly independently of each other during the Brexit campaign. However, The Observer claims to have seen confidential documents amounting to evidence of a close working relationship between them.
Mercer is a “long-term friend” of Nigel Farage and has previously worked closely with Steve Bannon (until things turned sour recently). Leave.EU’s communications director Andy Wigmore has revealed that it was Mercer who introduced Farage and Leave.EU to Cambridge Analytica:
“They were happy to help. Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Mercer introduced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this company we think may be useful to you’. What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information.”
Wigmore went on to describe the level of access to people’s personal Facebook data that the campaign was able to use as “creepy”.
Mercer’s political philosophy has been described by a former colleague:
“Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make. A cat has value, he’s said because it provides pleasure to humans. But if someone is on welfare they have negative value. If he earns a thousand times more than a schoolteacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable.”
Mercer’s fortune derives from being co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies – a company from which he has now stepped down. Its most profitable operation is the Medallion Fund. Open only to Renaissance employees, the fund has been described as “the blackest box in all finance” and has made annualised returns of over 40% over nearly 30 years. This means that £10,000 invested in the fund at its inception would now be worth well over £1 billion.
An investigation by a bipartisan committee of the US Senate has concluded that Renaissance has been operating an “abusive” tax avoidance scheme that enabled its employees to pocket around $6.8 billion in profits that should have been paid in tax. Central to this scheme was Deutsche Bank, which has been subpoenaed by US investigators seeking information on accounts held by Trump and his family. Deutsche Bank has also been under investigation by the US Justice Department for its alleged role in enabling Russian oligarchs to launder cash out of Russia.
It was reportedly $10 million of Mercer’s money that enabled Bannon to found the alt-right news outlet Breitbart, which in 2014 opened its London office – the latest front “in our current cultural and political war”, Bannon told the New York Times. Breitbart offered a powerful online platform to Farage and Ukip, employing Ukip’s Raheem Kassam as a senior editor and allegedly also paying Breitbart staff to support the party’s referendum campaign.
According to Andy Wigmore, it was Mercer who directed Cambridge Analytica to “help” the Leave campaign. Two months after the Brexit referendum, Mercer similarly offered a large cash infusion and logistical support to Trump’s campaign in the US, installing Bannon as its campaign manager.
In November 2017, following unfavourable coverage and claims that Breitbart was fostering racism and far-right extremism, Mercer tried to distance himself from the operation and publicly denied he “was or is” a white supremacist. His political activities had also attracted unwelcome attention to Renaissance Technologies, which may be why he announced in November 2017 that he was stepping back from the hedge fund and selling his stake to his daughters.
In the midst of this bad publicity, Mercer made a rare public announcement, saying: “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months, and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.” Five days later, Bannon was fired from Breitbart News, where Mercer’s daughter remains a shareholder.
It seems Mercer may now have more time to devote to his hobbies beyond far-right politics, which include sailing a luxury yacht worth $75-90 million and helping to amass the world’s largest collection of machine guns.
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