Offshore A—Z is an endless public index of companies registered in a number of tax havens. Each company listed on Offshore A—Z is real, but its entry represents a mix of public facts and fictional factoids, generated in an attempt to both inform and speculate on the nature and role of offshore companies.
The secretive practices of offshore finance wilfully introduce gaps in public knowledge through convoluted, obfuscatory and, potentially, malicious actions. Offshore A—Z takes a similar view of the truth - that it is not so singular, static, or valuable as to need to be upheld at all times. The project gives a form to a large amount of company data, in the attempt to shed a light on the covert world of tax avoidance, triggering new connections and possible speculations.
Offshore A—Z reappropriates the default language of the early Web 2.0, a world in which the few publicly accessible visual manifestations of offshore finance dwell. Furthermore, it explores the aesthetic possibilities of the notions of ‘offshore’ and ‘haven’. The shapes freely floating on the page, as if islands of a paradisiacal archipelago, are as colourful as a caribbean summer. The hue and tones change, as if the sun rose, shone, and set on the floating nation state housing the company.
About the data
The data contained within Offshore A—Z comes from a number of sources. The public company records of each tax haven have been scraped, yielding varying amounts of information - sometimes full company details and descriptions, sometimes little more than a name - and these have been combined with data from the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks and Panama Papers investigations, as well as Financial Secrecy Index scores from the Tax Justice Network. The resulting database has been mined for patterns and commonalities, with a number of algorithms trained to fill in the blanks. These associate images with companies and complete missing fields such as the date of registration and the company objective.
A listing on Offshore A—Z does not imply or suggest that any entity has broken the law, the nature of the data collected and the national and international frameworks around it means that it is not possible to say for certain the true aims of any of the companies listed.