Offshore A—Z is a digital repository of companies operating across major tax havens. Each company listed here is real, but the facts featured on the webpage consist of both company data, obtained by the Demystification Committee, and speculative images and mission statements, generated by algorithms.
This exploits the gaps in information and the inscrutability of offshore companies to guess on their possible nature and intent.
Tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions, wilfully introduce gaps in public knowledge to occult truth about the offshore companies they house. Offshore A—Z takes a similar view of the truth: that it is not one or static as to need to be upheld at all times. This project gives a form to a large amount of tax havens' companies data to begin grasping the size of corporate offshore finance, while speculating on the intents of those invested and investing in it.
The data contained within Offshore A—Z comes from a number of sources.
Prior to the Panama Papers leaks, the snippets of information available on offshore companies were confined to the online registrars that tax havens keep – as an empty gesture towards transparency. The registrars of a dozen tax haven were scraped by the Demystification Committee, obtaining records on ½ million companies. 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 combined with data from the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks, as well as Financial Secrecy Index scores from the Tax Justice Network.
The resulting database has been mined by a neural network, or a number of algorithms trained to fill in the gaps. These associate images with each nondescript company and complete missing fields, such as registration dates or mission statements, by analysing keywords from the company's available data and using them as a trigger to generate coherent sentences and find relevant imagery.
The true and false information is autonomously built into a web template, before a Twitter bot (@offshoreAZ) announces the release of a new company.
reappropriates the plain language of Web 2.0 templates used by existing registrars of companies, such templates being the only publicly accessible manifestation of offshore finance. Offshore A—Z is built on a default template which, however, slowly morphs away giving way to caribbean hues and floating forms – perhaps islands of a paradisiacal haven.
Offshore A—Z is a project by the Demystification Committee.