What in the World Are the Paradise Papers?
The name Paradise Papers is, at least, partially derived from the French term “Paradis Fiscal”. This term translates to “Tax Haven”.
1.4 TBs of data stolen from some of the most powerful companies across the globe. This stolen data gives insight into how some of the wealthiest individuals and companies in the world operate. It also shows that data integrity is one of the most important facets of any organization.
This most recent data breach turned media circus is the Paradise Papers. The largest leak came in 2016 with the 2.6 TBs of information Panama Papers leak. However, the data in the Paradise Papers hack is far more controversial and damning than any previous breach. Leaked information included 13.4 million documents and a database with over 120,000 names of people and companies.
The majority of the data stolen was from the offshore law firm Appleby. Also included in the leak was approximately 70 years worth of offshore financial records from firm clients.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is serving up a database chock-full of information relating not only to the Paradise and Panama Papers, but also going back to 2010 to cover Wikileaks’ ‘Cablegate’ from 2010, the Swiss leaks of 2015, as well as the Luxembourg leaks of 2014.
Here is a list of some of the current stemming allegations from this leak according to BBC News are:
- Prince Charles campaigned to alter climate-change agreements without disclosing his private estate’s offshore financial interest.
- Apple has protected its low-tax regime by using the Channel Island of Jersey.
- Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton avoided tax on his £16.5m luxury jet, the papers suggest.
- The Queen’s private estate invested about £10m offshore including a small amount in the company behind BrightHouse, a chain accused of irresponsible lending.
- An entrepreneur charged with managing the oil wealth of the struggling African state of Angola was paid more than $41m in just 20 months.
- How three stars of the hit BBC sitcom, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, diverted more than £2m into an offshore tax-avoidance scheme.
- One of the world’s largest firms loaned a businessman previously accused of corruption $45m and asked him to negotiate mining rights in the DR Congo.
- A key aide of Canada’s PM has been linked to offshore schemes. These schemes may have cost the nation millions of dollars in taxes, threatening to embarrass Justin Trudeau.
- Lord Ashcroft, a former Conservative party deputy chairman, may have broken the rules around how his offshore investments were managed. Other papers suggest he retained his non-dom tax status while in the House of Lords, despite claiming to have become resident in the UK.
- An oligarch with close links to the Kremlin may have secretly taken ownership of a company responsible for anti-money laundering checks on Russian cash.
- How a UK company exploited an anti-tax avoidance law to actually save itself the tax.
- How millionaires in the UK are selling their assets to offshore companies only to become investment advisers to those companies, avoiding tax.
- Private equity firm Blackstone avoided tens of millions of pounds in UK taxes on property deals in Glasgow and London.
- Billionaire Dermot Desmond’s exclusive private jet company used an offshore tax haven to avoid taxes.
Why Are Law Firms a Prime Target?
In recent history, cybercriminals are targeting law firms more than ever. A 2012 study from Mandiant Corporation reported that 80 percent of the nation’s 100 largest firms were victims of hacking. In 2015, an American Bar Association survey revealed that 25% of firms, with at least 100 lawyers, had fallen victim to a breach. Nearly half had no response plan in place. These firms are prime targets due to the fact that firms do not have precautionary measures in place. These measures include basic tools such as firewalls, spam filters, and antivirus. Without basic measures in place, firms are going to consistently be a prime target of cybercriminals due to the confidential nature of their information. Thus, it is essential for firms to begin taking cybersecurity more seriously and protecting their firm to prevent their own version of the Paradise Papers from happening.