Offshore A-Z is a digital repository of companies operating across major tax havens. Offshore A-Z exploits the inscrutability of such companies to speculate on their possible nature and intent. Each company listed on here is real, but the information surrounding these consist of both actual records, obtained by the Demystification Committee, and speculative images and mission statements, generated by algorithms.

Tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions, employ laws and corporate regulations different from those of most jurisdictions, using secrecy as a prime tool. Furthermore, the agents operating offshore on behalf of clients elsewhere have been observed by the Demystification Committee to willfully introduce mistakes in the records held on the companies they help forming. (Offshore Investigation Vehicle, p. 87)

When offshore companies are but a bundle of papers held in private storages, these practices contribute to a number of possible configurations of any given offshore company, whose records are at once factually correct and conveniently flawed.

Offshore A-Z plays with the idea that truth is not one nor static, and that it does not need to be upheld equally at all times or in all fora.

Obtaining the data

The data contained within Offshore A-Z comes from a number of sources. Prior to the Offshore Leaks, the snippets of information available on offshore companies were largely confined to the outdated online registrars kept by tax havens, as an empty gesture towards transparency. Employing data scraping techniques, the Demystification Committee extracted records on hundreds of thousands of companies appearing in a number of such registrars.

Yielding varying amounts of information, and naturally full of gaps - sometimes full company details and descriptions, sometimes little more than a name - the records were cross referenced with data from the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks as well as Financial Secrecy Index scores from the Tax Justice Network, and compiled into a single searchable database.

Training the algorithms

Algorithms were then trained to fill in the gaps in information. Using keywords from the company’s records as a trigger, the algorithms associate images with each nondescript company and complete missing fields by guessing possible incorporation dates or by generating corporate mission statement via a simple neural network. The coherency and accuracy of the neural network is directly undermined by the opaque source material, or incomplete input records. Finally, companies previously named in the Offshore Leaks ( for example) are hyperlinked to the relevant entry on the ICIJ database, allowing user to investigate further.

Compiling the template

The resulting information is autonomously built into a Web 2.0 page, employing a visual grammar similar to that used by existing registrars of companies. However, under intense scrutiny, the template mealts away revealing warm hues and floating forms.

This cycle of actions is repeated for each unreleased company found in the database and publicly announced by a Twitter bot.

Zooming in

Among the companies listed on the Offshore A-Z, a few appearing to be embedded in complex offshore vehicles were further investigated, resulting in three stories focusing on the funding behind Leave.EU, the corporate tax-avoidance of Barclays and the colonial origins of HSBC.

Offshore A-Z is a project by the Demystification Committee.

GRADEPOINT INTERNATIONAL A.V.V.

Company Name GRADEPOINT INTERNATIONAL A.V.V.
Date of Registration 20th January 1997
Company Objective a.    to invest its assets in securities, such as shares and other certificates of participation and bonds, as well as in other interest-bearing debentures, however denominated and in any and all forms;

b.    to acquire:

i.    revenues, derived from the alienation or assignment of the right to use copyrights, patents, designs, secret processes or formulas, trade marks and other analogous property;

ii.    royalties, including rentals, with regards to films or for the use of industrial, commercial or scientific equipment, as well as relating to the exploitation of a mine or quarry or pit or any other natural resources and other real property;

iii.    considerations paid for technical assistance;

c.    to invest its assets, either directly or indirectly, in real property and rights, to acquire, own, hire, let, rent, lease, divide, drain, develop, improve, build upon, sell, or otherwise alienate, mortgage or otherwise encumber of real property and build infrastructural works such as roads, pipelines and similar works on real property;

d.    to give security bonds and other guarantees, and to transfer ownership whether or not in fiduciary ownership or in trust, or mortgage, pledge or otherwise encumber assets, all this as security for the payment of the debts of the corporation and the debts of third parties, whether or not for a consideration;

e.    the trade in, including the wholesale trade, the distributive trade and the future trade, as well as the import and export of raw materials, minerals, metals, organic materials, semi-finished products and finished products of any kind and by whatever name;

f.    to borrow and lend out monies to respective professional market-parties, natural persons and corporate bodies which are related to the corporation by participation in its capital stock directly or indirectly, to emit bonds for monies received in loans and to give security in any manner in favor of third parties.

2.    The corporation may not be active, in or outside of Aruba, as a credit institution or credit association, as referred to in the Bank and Credit Supervision Act. The corporation may not participate in the Aruban commercial traffic, except for those transactions which are necessary to hold an office in Aruba.

3.    The corporation is authorized to do all necessary or useful for the achievement of its objective, or which stands in relationship thereto in the widest sense of the word, including the participation in any other enterprise or corporation, as well as the performance of all other acts in the commercial, industrial and financial field.

Country
aruba
Financial Secrecy Index [more info] 68