By Tom Wilson, Bloomberg News
Bermuda-based law firm Appleby said that it suffered a ‘data security incident’ last year and that reporters had recently made inquiries based on documents that included allegations of wrongdoing regarding the business of the firm and some of its clients.
“Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing,” the firm said in a statement posted on its website. “We are an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour.”
The firm was contacted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other organizations. According to Appleby, the ICIJ’s allegations were unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of legal offshore structures.
News of the hack comes more than a year after documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — and published by the ICIJ — revealed offshore companies linked to 12 current and former word leaders, as well as hidden financial dealings by at least 128 politicians and public officials. The leak of more than 11.5 million records, which became know as the Panama Papers, led to the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister.
Appleby didn’t immediately respond to voice message requesting further comment. An ICIJ spokesman declined to comment on an ongoing investigation.
The law firm, which has offices in offshore jurisdictions including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Mauritius, employs around 470 people and advises “a large number of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies,” it says on its website.
It is the fourth-largest provider of offshore legal services, according the online legal publication, The Lawyer. In addition to advising on mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring, Appleby also counsels clients on the risks associated with leaks and cybercrime.
“With each high profile hack and data breach, the protection of personal information remains a major concern for businesses in Bermuda,” its lawyers wrote in July. “Protecting personal data is now business critical.”