A partner at Appleby Mauritius agreed to help the film star Edoarda Crociani in a dispute with one of her daughters over the family wealth.
An offshore firm at the centre of a massive data leak was criticised by a court after agreeing to help a woman “wipe out all traces” of the source of funds that she was attempting to hide from her daughter.
A partner at Appleby Mauritius, a fiduciary business that was owned by the law firm Appleby, agreed to help the film star Edoarda Crociani, 77, in a long-running dispute with one of her two daughters over the family wealth.
The lawyer, Gilbert Noel, was asked by Ms Crociani to hide funds in a new trust for her favoured daughter, Princess Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles, 46, without the knowledge of her younger sister, Cristiana, 44. He suggested using Appleby’s Jersey office to do this, although the staff there refused.
Mr Noel took Mrs Crociani on as a client despite “red flags” being raised by colleagues who warned that she was “very secretive as regards the source of funds”, did not want an email trail and did not want one of her two daughters to know about the existence of the trust.
A ruling by the Royal Court in Jersey last month found that Appleby Mauritius had manufactured correspondence, transferred a promissory note worth millions “in a brazen attempt” to evade the court’s jurisdiction and acted in a “shameful and hostile” manner towards Cristiana after apparently siding with her mother. The court found that the evidence showed the company “in a poor light”.
It ordered Appleby Mauritius, Mrs Crociani and another former trustee, BNP Paribas Jersey, to repay an estimated $200 million (£149 million) taken from a trust fund that had been set up to benefit both daughters.
Appleby Mauritius changed its name to Estera Trust (Mauritius) after a management buyout in December 2015 and is no longer owned by the law firm.
Clients of Appleby are bracing for their financial secrets to be exposed after the company, based in Bermuda, admitted that its computer records had been hacked last year.
The company said that the leaked data had been analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the group behind the reporting of last year’s Panama Papers, which proved embarrassing for world leaders and other figures in business, sport and entertainment.
Analysis of Land Registry data by The Times shows that hundreds of properties were purchased in the UK through shell companies associated with Appleby offices in Bermuda and other offshore jurisdictions. They include a hotel in central London connected to a Malaysian tycoon and a language school with a string of multi-million pound locations.
Appleby said that it could not comment on the Jersey case because of confidentiality. It added that it had treated it “extremely seriously” with “immediate action” taken against Mr Noel.
•The EU is to investigate a change to the UK tax system which exempts multinationals from measures to beat tax avoidance. Officials believe it may break competition rules as domestic rivals may pay more tax than multinationals, according to The Guardian.