The financial secrets of the super-rich clients of a Bermuda law firm might be about to be leaked following a data breach in a cyber attack last year, the law firm has admitted.
Appleby has spoken out to warn clients that they may be subject to exposure and that the data had been passed to media outlets that are members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the same organisation behind 2015’s data breach at a Panamanian law firm that led to what became known as the Panama Papers..
While strenuously denying any wrongdoing or illegal activity, the law firm said that it was not “infallible”.
The statement was prompted by an approach to the law firm by ICIJ, which says it now has evidence of wrongdoing from material handed to it that includes data uncovered in the hack.
Appleby did not tolerate “illegal behaviour,” it said, and dismissed the ICIJ’s allegations as “unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector.”
‘No evidence of wrongdoing’
The firm had investigated the charges “thoroughly and vigorously,” and was satisfied there was no evidence of wrongdoing “either on the part of ourselves or our clients.”
Appleby was established in Bermuda in the 1890s and specialises in offshore legal advice, with other locations including the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, and the Seychelles, “as well as a presence in the international financial centres of Hong Kong and Shanghai”.
Although admitting that it was not infallible, the firm said that, where it finds that mistakes have happened “we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities”.
Panama Papers 2?
The so-called “Panama Papers” case referred to a huge data breach at the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Panama City-based Mossack Fonseca.
This saw 11.5 million financial documents being released by ICIJ, and was believed to have been the largest leak in the history of data journalism.
It led to many notable figures being named, including Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, who left office in April 2016 as a result of the revelations.
Other names associated with the leak included former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi.
In the UK, the list of high-profile names named in the revelations included former prime minister David Cameron, actor Emma Watson, pictured above, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and music and entertainment mogul Simon Cowell.