WEALTHY tax avoiders are braced for their financial details to be leaked – after a leading offshore firm claimed it had been hacked.
Bermuda-based law firm Appleby has warned its super-rich clients that they could be implicated in the huge leak of highly sensitive information following a “data security incident” last year.
Some of Britain’s wealthiest people were understood to be instructing lawyers and public relations firms last night to ensure damage limitation to their reputations, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Appleby, which also has offices in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius and the Seychelles, denied any wrongdoing.
The firm issued a statement after it was contacted by a group of investigative journalists probing allegations concerning its “business and the business conducted by some of our clients”.
Appleby said it had taken the allegations “extremely seriously” and after investigating the claims itself concluded “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients”.
It is thought that information from the hack will be leaked in left wing media outlets across the globe over the coming days.
A statement from Appleby said: “We are an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business.
“We do not tolerate illegal behaviour. 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.”
The data leak comes a year after the “Panama Papers” release – which exposed some of the world’s wealthiest tax evaders – including close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s relatives and Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
The revelations came after 11.5million documents were stolen and leaked from Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.
Lord Ashcroft, Baroness Pamela Sharples and former Tory MP Michael Mates were among the British politicians named.
The files claimed to show how secret off-shore deals and loans worth £2billion made members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle super-rich.
They also referred to secret off-shore companies linked to the families of Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.