British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica has been ranked as the seventh most controversial company of 2018 by risk research firm RepRisk.

RepRisk cited “human rights abuses”, “fraud”, “corruption”, “bribery”, “extortion” and “money laundering” as the top reasons for Cambridge Analytica’s position.

In March 2018 the Observer revealed how the analytics company harvested data from 50 million Facebook profiles to target voters during the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit referendum campaign.

Aggregate IQ, a company linked to Cambridge Analytica, is also alleged to have meddled in two Kenyan elections in 2013 and 2017.

It is believed that Cambridge Analytica may have influenced more than 200 elections around the world before it was dissolved.

Last week, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections, was fined £15,000 for ignoring a US citizen’s data request.

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And in September Aggregate IQ was hit with the first ever UK GDPR notice for the misuse of UK citizens’ data.

Airlines, banks and food companies among top ten

Elsewhere, Changsheng Bio-technology was ranked number four due to “allegations that the company had been producing substandard vaccines”.

The Chinese firm was hit with a $1.32bn penalty in October for falsifying data and producing an ineffective vaccine for babies.

According to RepRisk, the most controversial company of 2018 was Lion Air, following the aeroplane crash on 29 October that killed 181 passengers, six cabin crew members, and two pilots.

A preliminary report in November found that there were multiple technical problems on flight JT610, but no conclusion has yet been reached.

To create the list, RepRisk combined artificial intelligence (AI) and human insight to analyse over 110,000 public and private companies.

The most controversial companies in full 

Ranking Company name Sector Country of headquarters
1 Lion Mentari Airlines (Lion Air) Airlines Indonesia
2 Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Co Ltd (PNPC) Utilities Lao People’s Democratic Republic
3 Punjab National Bank Ltd (PNB) Banks India
4 Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology China
5 JBS Tolleson Inc Food and Beverage US


6 Danske Bank AS Estonia Banks Estonia
7 Cambridge Analytica Ltd Software and Computer Services; Support Services (Industrial Goods and Services) UK
8 Autostrade per l’Italia SpA (Autostrade) Industrial Transportation Italy
9 Greenyard NV Food and Beverage Belgium
10 Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd Industrial Engineering;

Industrial Transportation



“The MCC 2018 Report shows how major corporations from different sectors, including airlines, utilities, and banks had to mitigate reputational and financial impacts resulting from inadequate management of ESG risks,” said Philipp Aeby, CEO of RepRisk.

“The wide spectrum of ESG issues faced by the companies, and the ripple effects of these issues on the sector as a whole, highlights the global dynamics of ESG incidents.”

The full MCC Report with further explanation and methodology can be found here.