As first reported in the Wall Street Journal and subsequently in this The Guardian report, both Cambridge Analytica and one of its holding companies SCL Elections, are winding down in the US and the UK.
The companies are in terminal agony still protesting their innocence: that their methods have always been ethical and unimpeachable.
But even so the terrible publicity they’ve been getting has, according to them, wiped out their client list and replaced it with huge legal fees.
Of course since the story first broke in the UK a few weeks ago journalists from across the world scrambled to establish the extent of involvement of politicians in their area of interest with SCL and Cambridge Analytica. The major stories concern Donald Trump’s campaign and the pro-Brexit referendum campaign.
But there were other interesting stories including SCL’s long standing involvement with Henley and Partners. How they manipulated elections in the Caribbean where passports are solds in order to introduce and protect schemes like Malta’s.
There was also the horrible story whistleblower Christopher Wylie told about a predecessor of his who worked for SCL in Kenya and ended up dead in his hotel room in suspicious circumstances after complaining to his bosses of his own ethical conflict with what he was being asked to do. Needless to say those bosses have always denied and continue to deny having had anything to do with that incident.
I reported of one case where SCL denied participating in elections sources told me they had personally worked in for them. I reported on their work for a Cypriot presidential candidate which they disown.
And of course I reported on SCL’s sales efforts with the PN here in Malta on the eve of the 2013 elections when they had been scouting with Henley and Partners for engagement with the then Labour Party Opposition already in 2010.
It is significant that the collapse of Cambridge Analytica came about hours before the dawn of the 3rd of May. Today marks World Press Freedom Day. And journalistic investigations and the protection of whistleblowers brought about the collapse of an organisation whose business it was to short-circuit independent journalism and allow politicians to manipulate elections through misinformation, deceit, subterfuge and, placed on the right mobile phone screens, purely fake news.
They deny this is unethical. They may be right it is hard to argue what they did was illegal as such.
But it’s encouraging that the forces of truth have prevailed.
This follows the collapse of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law-firm that was one of the globe’s leading laundries for illicit money and included in its client list Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and, while he continues to deny it, Joseph Muscat through his wife.
From our Malta point of view this story has specific poignancy. It reminds us of Pilatus Bank who a year ago was denying reports it was a clearing house for corruption and money laundering and effectively accusing the journalist and the whistleblower revealing what they were up to of madness and witchcraft.
Of all the stories Daphne Caruana Galizia published and all the information Maria Efimova provided, whenever facts subsequently emerged, these confirmed and verified what had been reported. Not one single story was disproved by any evidence that proved it incorrect.
There remains the Egrant story which the prime minister is confident will never be verified because, he says, it is not true, or perhaps one can surmise because only Ali Sadr knows better than the prime minister what was in those bags that night.
But the mighty Pilatus Bank, seemingly unassailable with its friends in high places and access to international arrest warrants against the whistleblower who revealed their secrets and 40-million-dollar lawsuits against the journalist who published them, is now out of its owner’s hands and, reportedly, winding down.
Henley & Partners: here’s looking at you, kids.