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 Prior to the Offshore Leaks, the snippets of information available on offshore companies were largely confined to the outdated online registrars kept by tax havens, as an empty gesture towards transparency.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

B & R CARIBBEAN PRINTING & DEVELOPMENT CO. A.V.V.

Company Name B & R CARIBBEAN PRINTING & DEVELOPMENT CO. A.V.V.
Date of Registration 7th February 1989
Company Objective 1.a.    investing its resources in securities, such as shares and other certificates of participation and debentures, as also in other interest-bearing claims collectible, irrespective of their name and in whatever form it be;

b.    acquiring of:

i.    proceeds, emanating from the alienation or the relinquishing of the right to make use of copyrights, patents models, secret processes or formulae, trademarks, and analogous matters.

ii.    royalties, including rentals with regard to films or by reason of the use of industrial, commercial or scientific installations, as also with regard to the operation of a mine or a quarry or any other natural resource and other immovable matters;

iii.    compensation for rendering technical assistance;

c.    the direct or indirect investing of its resources in immovable goods, and rights, to acquire, possess, hire, let lease, rent, parcelling-up, reclaiming, developing, improving, cultivating, building on, selling or in any other manner alienating, mortgaging or in any other way encumbering of items or immovable property and the building of infrastructural works on immovable property;

d.    the posting of suretyship and other guarantees and the transfer into ownership whether or not in fiduciary ownership or in trust or mortgaging, pledging or otherwise encumbering or component parts of fortunes, one thing and the other as security for the payment of the company's debts and of the debts of third parties, either or not against a counterperformance.

e.    to trade which includes wholesale, distributive trade and future dealings and also the import and export or raw materials, metals, minerals, organic substance, semifinished products and finished products of whatever nature and under whatever name;

f.    to act as financing corporation and to mediate in the realization of financing of all sorts of transactions;

2.    The corporation may not be active, in or outside of Aruba, as a credit company or credit association as referred to in the national ordinance on supervision of Bank and Credit system. The corporation may not participate in the Aruban commercial traffic, except for those transactions which are necessary to maintain the administration of an office in Aruba.

3.    The corporation is authorized to perform any and everything for the achievement of its objective which can be necessary or useful, or stands in relationship therewith, in the broadest sense of the word, including the participation in any other enterprise or company and also to perform all other actions in the commercial, industrial and financial area.
Country
aruba
Financial Secrecy Index [more info] 68