Bermuda, Appleby Respond To Client Data Hack
by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, Washington
31 October, 2017
Bermuda's Government has responded to media reports of a cyber hack of leading offshore law firm Appleby Global, in what some are calling a repeat of the Panama Papers leak.
In a brief statement, Bermuda's Government said the island "is a recognized leader in international tax compliance and tax transparency. In keeping with our international obligations, relevant authorities in Bermuda will review any new matters raised."
Appleby said it has received inquiries from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and a number of media organizations who are partners of the ICIJ claiming to have seen documents that substantiate allegations of unlawful business undertaken by the company and its clients in relation to tax.
A statement from Appleby said: "We take any allegation of wrongdoing, implicit or otherwise, extremely seriously. Appleby operates in highly regulated jurisdictions and like all professional organizations in our regions, we are subject to frequent regulatory checks and we are committed to achieving the high standards set by our regulators. We are also committed to the highest standards of client service and confidentiality. It is what we stand for. This commitment is unequivocal."
"Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients. We refute any allegations which may suggest otherwise and we would be happy to cooperate fully with any legitimate and authorized investigation of the allegations by the appropriate and relevant authorities."
"We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behavior. It is true that we are not infallible. Where we find that mistakes have happened we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities. We are committed to protecting our clients' data and we have reviewed our cyber security and data access arrangements following a data security incident last year which involved some of our data being compromised. These arrangements were reviewed and tested by a leading IT Forensics team and we are confident that our data integrity is secure."
"We are disappointed that the media may choose to use information which could have emanated from material obtained illegally and that this may result in exposing innocent parties to data protection breaches. Having researched the ICIJ's allegations we believe they are unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector."
Appleby pointed out that the ICIJ's website recognizes "the legitimacy of the offshore sector with the following statement on [its] website: 'There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.'"
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