Demystification Committee

Offshore A-Z

Offshore A-Z is a digital repository of companies operating across major tax havens. Each company listed on Offshore A-Z is real, but the facts featured in its online entry 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.

Offshore A-Z gives form to a large amount of tax havens’ companies data to begin grasp the size of corporate offshore finance, while speculating on the intents of those invested and investing in it.

Prior to the Panama Papers leak, the snippets of information available on such companies were confined to the online registrars that tax havens keep — as an empty gesture towards transparency. Records on ½ million companies, and naturally full of gaps, were obtained from a dozen registrars and compiled into a single database.

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.

The project 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.