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RepRisk case study
Appleby

Paradise Papers Tax Avoidance Scandal

May 2018

What happened?

In October 2017, Appleby Global Group Services (Appleby), a Bermuda-based legal firm, admitted that the company’s computer systems had been hacked in various locations. The news sparked concern among many corporations and high-net-worth individuals who had allegedly used Appleby and its corporate services provider Estera Group to create offshore entities for tax avoidance purposes and illegal activities, such as money laundering. The hackers leaked the data to reporters working for the German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which subsequently shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

On November 5, 2017, ICIJ released 6.8 million Appleby documents, which included loan agreements, financial statements, e-mails, trust deeds, and other paperwork spanning nearly 50 years. The leak was dubbed the Paradise Papers due to the idyllic locations of some of the tax havens used by the company.

The documents named well-known multinationals and high-profile individuals, who had used Appleby’s services to hide their wealth in shell companies located in tax havens around the world.

During November and December 2017, detailed scrutiny of the files revealed that Appleby had provided services for more than 120 politicians around the world, members of royal families, controversial clients from Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Libya, and “questionable” clients who were linked to corruption.

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