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 Prior to the Offshore Leaks, the snippets of information available on offshore companies were largely confined to the outdated online registrars kept by tax havens, as an empty gesture towards transparency.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

INTERNATIONAL CHEMICALS LIMITED

Company Name INTERNATIONAL CHEMICALS LIMITED
Date of Registration 9th January 1948
Company Objective eoditing buildings and other enterprises and companies; - to promote the financial interests of third parties in and outside of Hong kong special administrative region of the people's republic of china; the operating an electronic facilities. a room the and / or administration of shareholders mistuctured goods and shops, both for the Corporation also by det and rights to acquire, own, rent, lease, manage and administer, sell or dispose otherwise, mortgaging or otherwise encumber real estate, IT BEING UNDERSTOOD THAT THE INTENDED ACTIVITIES NOT INTENDED FOR CONSTRUCTION OF HOTELS AND / OR CONDOMINIUMS CQ CONVERTING AN EXISTING BUILDING IN THAT PURPOSE; 2. rent, lease, sublease, providing mortgage or otherwise of security rights in immovable property or related rights and interests; 3. the setting of bail and other guarantees and ownership transfer whether in fiduciary or trust or mortgage, pledge or otherwise encumber assets, all this as security for the payment of the debts of the Company and the third party debt , whether or not for contraprestatie; 4. the total or partial structure of pension provision for directors, former directors, shareholders, former shareholders of the public company and / or their survivors. 5. acting as finance and mediating in the realization of financing transactions, particularly within the group in which the company; 4. The company activities mentioned sub 12 can only carry out in such a way that they do not as a credit institution as defined in Article 1 paragraph 1 of the Ordinance Supervision Credit System can be considered. It is also expressly prohibited without exemption, to perform Banking transactions referred to in Article 48 of the Ordinance Supervision; 10. participating input, providing support on or is in any way interested in continuing, or carry it over or directors perceive the representation of other companies, partnerships and legal persons, regardless of the object clause; 15. carrying out activities and afford all afford all actions, which are related in the bro
Country
hong kong special administrative region of the people's republic of china
Financial Secrecy Index [more info] 72