• The power players behind Cambridge Analytica set up a mysterious new data firm last year called Emerdata.
  • The New York Times reported that Emerdata could be a front to rebrand Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group after Cambridge Analytica was shut down on Wednesday.
  • The Times called it a “Blackwater-style” operation after the infamous private security firm changed its name when contractors were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians.
  • There are established links between Emerdata and Blackwater.

The power players behind Cambridge Analytica set up a mysterious new data firm last year – and there is speculation that it could be used a rebrand vehicle after Cambridge Analytica was shut down.

Business Insider reported earlier this year that Emerdata was incorporated in August 2017 by executives at Cambridge Analytica, which was abruptly shuttered on Wednesday.

Citing two sources familiar with the plans, The New York Times reported that Emerdata could be used to rebrand both Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Group.

The Times called it a “Blackwater-style” operation, a reference to the infamous private security firm which changed its name to Xe Services after Blackwater contractors were convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Emerdata’s links to Blackwater

The Blackwater comparison is even more resonant when you consider that Johnson Chun Shun Ko, the deputy chairman of Frontier Services Group, is listed as a director of Emerdata.

Frontier is a private security firm which mostly operates in Africa and is currently chaired by US businessman and prominent Trump supporter Erik Prince. Prince is best known for founding private military group Blackwater US and is the brother of US education secretary Betsy DeVos.

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Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, also joined the board of Emerdata earlier this year, according to public filings at Britain’s Companies House.

Erik Prince

Foto: Prince, 48, has already had a lengthy and controversial career in the political arena. source Susan Walsh/AP

This represents another link between Blackwater and Emerdata. Prince donated to the Make America Number 1 PAC, a Mercer-funded group that supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Make America Number 1 paid Cambridge Analytica $1.5 million in 2015 and 2016. During undercover filming by Britain’s Channel 4 News, CA executives revealed how Make America Number 1 was used to seed online attack ads against Hillary Clinton.

Cambridge Analytica’s former CEO Alexander Nix was listed as a director but has since resigned. Julian Wheatland, chairman of Cambridge Analytica parent firm SCL Group, remains a director.

The filings show Wheatland set up Emerdata along with Cambridge Analytica’s chief data officer, Alexander Tayler.

It isn’t clear what Emerdata does, though the company is listed under “data processing, hosting, and related activities.” It shares an address in Canary Wharf with Cambridge Analytica’s parent, SCL Group.