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Paradise Papers Breach is Hell for Offshore Tax Avoiders

Media organizations across the globe went into overdrive on Sunday publishing the first in several instalments from a trove of breached secret documents listing dubious financial offshore dealings of the rich and famous.

In what could be one of the biggest breaches of its kind in history, the so-called “Paradise Papers” lift the lid on some questionable practices by figures as diverse as the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, the Queen, Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft and organizations including Facebook, Twitter, Nike and Apple.

The 1.4TB data dump is said to come primarily from offshore law firm Appleby, which a fortnight ago issued a lengthy statement in a bid to preempt the revelations.

The firm issued a similar missive on Sunday as the first reports hit the news-stands, claiming:

“We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act. This was an illegal computer hack. Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker and covered his/her tracks to the extent that a forensic investigation by a leading international Cyber & Threats team concluded that there was no definitive evidence that any data had left our systems. This was not the work of anybody who works at Appleby.”

Among the revelations uncovered by the data breach are millions of pounds of investment from the Queen’s private estate to offshore accounts, secret financial dealings between commerce secretary Ross and a Russian firm part-run by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and millions of dollars of investment in Facebook and Twitter from Russian state companies.

Apple and Nike are also accused of major tax avoidance by investing in offshore funds like the one run by Appleby from Bermuda.

The incident comes 18 months after the 2.6TB Panama Papers leak exposed the shady financial dealings of numerous celebs and world leaders including Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

High-Tech Bridge CEO, Ilia Kolochenko, claimed obligatory data security standards should be considered for law firms, which are becoming an increasingly attractive target for cyber-criminals.

“Many law firms still carelessly rely on the law for data protection, but this is in vain. Paucity of financial resources and lack of qualified personnel preclude law enforcement agencies from investigating and prosecuting the vast majority of crimes committed in digital space,” he added.

“This creates a very dangerous atmosphere of unlawfulness and impunity in the internet, undermining trust in the government and its ability to protect our society.”

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