Offshore firm Appleby admits cyber breach as clients prepare for data leak

Leading offshore firm Appleby has admitted that it was the victim of a cyber breach in 2016, as it prepares for the possibility of some of its clients’ private data being leaked to the press.

The firm published a statement on its website yesterday (24 October), admitting to the breach but denying any allegations of wrongdoing.

“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 read.

“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,” the firm’s statement said.

Reports in the Daily Telegraph claim that media organisations are preparing to release data from the breach during the coming days.

Appleby’s statement was issued in response to enquiries from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) “and a number of media organisations who are partners of the ICIJ”.

“These enquiries 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,” the statement reads.

“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,” the statement said.

In 2016, the ICIJ published a cache of documents, ‘the Panama papers’, from offshore firm Mossack Fonseca, which was drawn from a leak of more than 11.5 million documents.

UK firms including Clifford Chance (CC), Allen & Overy (A&O), Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Clyde & Co were among a number of major law firms to be named in the 2016 leak.

The political fallout from the leak is ongoing, with Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif forced to stand down from his role in July, after Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified him from office.

Sharif’s fall from grace was triggered by revelations in the Panama papers that linked him and his family to offshore companies with significant property holdings in London.

Bermuda-headquartered Appleby has offices in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, Seychelles and Shanghai.

The firm’s clients include FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions and high-net-worth individuals.