The directors of two companies meet to sign a loan agreement. One wants to secure funds for their business; the other’s aims are unclear.
Profit for All was performed at transmediale festival 2018, held in Berlin, DE. The performance is a ‘legal fiction’ and a means to explore tactics of secrecy widely used offshore.
The nature of offshore corporate finance is indeterminate and fictional. Multiple documents with contrasting information are created for any offshore company and kept in different places, scrutinisable by different people. Whether these are the taxman, a shareholder or the agent that set it up, no single one of them has the (legal, practical, financial) means to grasp an offshore company in its entirety.
Profit for All plays with this indeterminacy. During the performance, the directors of two companies, part of an Offshore Investigation Vehicle set-up by the Demystification Committee, undertake the necessary steps to distribute money they hide offshore back to their investors onshore — money coming from illicit sales made through the same Vehicle.
The loan agreement signed on stage constitutes a legal fiction to exploit the secrecy that any offshore company grants. Specifically, the agreement makes it possible to loop money back-and-forth through two jurisdictions, by using the shield of puppet directors, mistaken information and omissions, resulting in “laundered”, tax-free money.
Two versions of the performance are documented and, when seen together, they contradict each other’s course of action. One was carried out in front of a private audience present at transmediale, who could follow the actions on stage by both listening to a voice narration and seeing visual information being projected on stage. Another version was simultaneously broadcast live to a public audience, however only featuring the voice narration and showing the actions on stage, thus offering a different story by partially concealing information.
Crucially, both stories told are true, their accuracy only assessable from a specific point of view. Taken at face value the public story is legitimate: two independent companies have agreed to transfer funds between each other for business reasons. In reality, as apparent to the private audience, the companies exist within the same Vehicle.