Facebook Users Can't Find Anyone Left at Cambridge Analytica

(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge overseeing the Cambridge Analytica bankruptcy is trying to head off a “Houdini act” in which everyone involved in the case disappears.

Schulte Roth & Zabel, the law firm that handled the U.K.-based firm’s U.S. bankruptcy filing, has asked permission to drop the case, saying there are no more employees left to tell it what to do. That’s a problem not only for the firm’s usual creditors, but also for Facebook users, and government agencies, as they grapple with a probe into how Cambridge may have misused Facebook data in its work for U.S. President Donald Trump in the last election.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane adjourned a hearing on the law firm’s request Wednesday, saying he had a “concern that the case is essentially abandoned and that leaves constituents in the case in a really problematic situation.” Lane said when key parties vanish, it can be like a “Houdini act” that means the case can’t move forward at all.

Most vocal among among Cambridge Analytica’s constituents are groups who have sued Cambridge and Facebook in dozens of lawsuits on behalf of around 87 million Facebook users.

Cambridge and its subsidiaries bankruptcies have “gained both national and international interest from various governmental agencies, and have been the subject of congressional hearings and other government investigations,” said a group of Facebook plaintiffs in court filings that objected to Schulte Roth’s immediate departure.

A trustee in the case has proposed designating the company’s former chief executive, Julian Wheatland, as a person who would be responsible for answering such inquiries. But Wheatland has yet to respond to any messages about the matter, and it’s not clear he’s even received them, lawyers told Lane at Wednesday’s hearing.

The case is Cambridge Analytica LLC, 18-11500, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

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