Offshore law and fiduciary firm Appleby confirmed it has received inquiries from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in relation to documents that may have been subject to an alleged hack at the firm.
The ICIJ is a global network of investigative journalists that in 2015 released the so-called Panama Papers, a set of 11.5 million leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Bermuda-headquartered firm said the inquiries “have arisen from documents that journalists claim to have seen and involve allegations made against our business and the business conducted by some of our clients.”
Appleby admitted “a data security incident” happened at the firm last year and that some data had been compromised.
“We are committed to protecting our clients’ data and we have reviewed our cybersecurity and data access arrangements following a data security incident last year which involved some of our data being compromised,” the statement said. “These arrangements were reviewed and tested by a leading IT forensics team and we are confident that our data integrity is secure.”
English newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that the law firm was in the process of warning clients that they may be implicated in a massive leak of sensitive information in Bermuda.
Appleby, however, denied that any of the allegations leveled against the firm and its clients involved misconduct.
“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.”
Having researched the ICIJ’s allegations, Appleby said, it believes they are unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector.
The firm said it operates in highly regulated jurisdictions and like other professional organizations is subject to frequent regulatory checks.
Appleby has offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, Shanghai and the Seychelles.
“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 said in its prepared statement.
The firm said it does “not tolerate illegal behavior” but admitted “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.”
Appleby also criticized media organizations for using information that may have been obtained through a cybersecurity breach.
“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.”