Cambridge Analytica played a major role in the Brexit campaign, though both Nix and Brexit campaigners have since attempted play this down. Until November 2017 it was part-owned by the hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Far-right ideologue Steve Bannon was also a part-owner and board member of Cambridge Analytica.
In February 2016 Nix wrote a piece for Campaign magazine in which he boasted that: “We [Cambridge Analytica] have already helped supercharge Leave.EU’s social media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online.” Despite this, he later claimed that “we didn’t work for any of the campaigns that were involved in Brexit”.
Educated at Eton, Nix began his career with Baring Securities before joining Robert Fraser & Partners LLP, a corporate finance and tax advisory firm. In 2003 he joined the SCL Group and since 2007 he has focused on growing its elections division, SCL Elections, working on more than 40 political campaigns around the world, from South Africa to Indonesia.
SCL describes itself as a “behaviour change agency”, using psychological techniques derived from military psyops to influence people. Nix has helped it put these techniques to work for governments and “global militaries all over the world”, as well as for commercial corporations. As he has put it: “The clients we were interested in servicing were not necessarily vendors of products like Mars Bars.”
Between 2005 and 2015, SCL’s largest shareholder was the property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz. In 2011, Tchenguiz and his brother Robert were arrested by the Serious Fraud Office as part of its investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Tchenguiz also has business connections with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who in turn is closely linked to both Vladimir Putin and Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort. Tchenguiz is on record stating that the break-up of the European Union will bring “huge [business] opportunities”.
In 2009 the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines accused the country’s opposition of using the services of SCL Elections to run the “Vote No Campaign” for a referendum on constitutional change. He alleged the campaign was funded by groups who wish to maintain the practice of “economic citizenship”, or as he described it “selling passports” to enable wealthy foreigners to use his country as a tax haven.
Nix is also thought to have operated under the alias “Alexander Ashburner”, the name under which he was listed as Director of Strategy of the secretive Athena Trust.