The CEO of the British data firm Cambridge Analytica was filmed saying that his firm used bribes and sex workers to trap politicians in compromising situations, an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News in London reported Monday.
Channel 4 reports that over a four-month undercover investigation, it discovered that Cambridge Analytica has secretly worked to influence more than 200 elections all over the world, sometimes using sub-contractors or a web of secretive front companies.
Alexander Nix, the company's chief executive, in one exchange talks about sending "some girls around to the candidate's house" in order to dig up dirt on political opponents.
He also talks of putting information "into the bloodstream of the internet" and watching to grow.
Nix did not appear to know he was being filmed when he made the statements at what Channel 4 said were a series of hotel meetings. The news organization said its reporter posed as the representative of a client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.
In another exchange, he speaks of how "we'll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the internet.”
Nix also said that, because clients in foreign nations don’t want to be seen as working with foreigners, they have to hide their identities, often passing as students or tourists.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica denied using bribes, entrapment "or so-called honey-traps."
The Trump campaign used Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential contest. It also had obtained a $15 million investment from wealthy GOP donor Robert Mercer.
The company is under new scrutiny after a report Saturday in The New York Times that said it had harvested private information of more than 50 million people through Facebook, and then attempted to use that information to help Trump by influencing voter behavior. It is not clear the efforts worked.
Facebook suspended the firm on Friday over violating its privacy policies.
In 2015, Facebook discovered privacy violations and demanded Cambridge Analytica provide certification that it had deleted their data. The firm says it complied, but Facebook recently got reports that not all of the data had been destroyed.
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—Updated at 4:18 p.m.