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 Prior to the Offshore Leaks, the snippets of information available on offshore companies were largely confined to the outdated online registrars kept by tax havens, as an empty gesture towards transparency.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.

VITAPRO A.V.V.

Company Name VITAPRO A.V.V.
Date of Registration 20th June 2001
Company Objective 1A. THE WHOLESALE TRADE, THE RETAIL TRADE AND THE AGENCY TRADE IN MEDICINES, PHARMACEUTICAL AND PARAMEDICAL PRODUCTS, MEDICAL ARTICLES AND MEDICAL APPLIANCES, AS WELL AS THE PACKING AND RE-PACKING OF MEDICINES AND PHARMACEUTICAL AND PARAMEDICAL PRODUCTS;

B.    to invest its assets in securities, including shares and other certificates of participation and bonds, as well as in other interestbearing claims however denominated and in any and all forms;

C.    to acquire:

i.    revenues, derived from the alienation or leasing of right to use copyrights, patents, designs, secret processes or formulae, trademarks and other analogous property;

ii.    royalties, including rentals, in respect of motions picture films or for the use of industrial, commercial or scientific equipment, as well as relating to operation of mine or quarry or of any other extraction of natural resources and other immovable properties;

iii.    considerations paid for technical assistance;

D.    to invest its assets directly or indirectly in real property and rights, to acquire, own, hire, let, lease, rent, divide, drain, reclaim, develop, improve, cultivate, build on, sell or otherwise alienate, mortgage or otherwise encumber real property and to construct infrastructural works like roads, pipes and similar works on real estate;

E.    to guarantee or otherwise secure, and to transfer in ownership, to mortgage, to pledge or otherwise encumber assets as security for the obligations of the money and for the obligations of third parties, with or without consideration;

F.    to trade which includes wholesale, intermediate trade and the futures dealings and also the import and export of raw materials, metals, minerals, organic substances, semi-finished products and finished products of whatever nature and under whatever name;

G.    to act as finance company and as intermediary in effecting financing of transactions. The corporation can exclusively perform these activities within the framework of its normal business operations not with importance to act as finance company that in such a way that it cannot be deemed a credit institution as meant in the State Ordinance Supervision Banking and Credit System. Furthermore, its is explicitly prohibited from attracting money from the public and/or to lend out money to the public;

H.    to have, including to register or have register and hold register, to operate, have operate, to mortgage or otherwise operate and to alienate, including to re-register or have re-register, of one or more airline companies or ships.

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 system Supervision Act. The corporation may not participate in the Aruban commercial traffic, except for those transactions which are necessary to have an office in Aruba.

3.    The corporation is authorized to do any and all things that may be useful or necessary for the attainment of its objects, or that is connected therewith in the widest sense of the word, including that participation in any other venture or corporation, as well as the performance of any other act of a commercial, industrial and financial nature.
Country
aruba
Financial Secrecy Index [more info] 68