The Offshore Investigation Vehicle is an international corporate structure spanning three seas, set up to collectively model and explore offshore financial practices. It operates at once as a guide and a shield, providing access to a hidden world of financial opportunities and insiders’ knowledge, while guaranteeing the secrecy of the actions undertaken there.
The Vehicle exists through legal documents, created by the proxies, agents and service providers engaged in its formation. This setup process and offshoring tactics are compiled into a book, available as a PDF.
The Offshore Investigation Vehicle aims to utilise and expose the inner workings of offshore finance: the laws that legalise it, the proxies that facilitate it, and the sea of shell-corporations that inhabit it.
After its setup, the Vehicle was opened to others as a container for a community of interested financial explorers. 58 people joined, formally, through the norms of corporate law: shares were issued; meetings called; resolutions voted on.
As an umbrella for a community engaging with the inherently hidden and inaccessible system of offshore corporate finance, the Vehicle aims to be an inversion of the purposes of similar offshore ventures (that is, concealing) and a step towards its neutralisation through collective, experiential use.
Onshore, at the top of the Vehicle, is Empire Management Limited, a UK-based private company directed by Francesco Tacchini and Oliver Smith, two members of the Demystification Committee. Offshore, Empire Management controls Invest. One Limited, a Seychelles International Business Company (IBC) directed by a ‘puppet’ director, called Mark Andrew Derek Farmer. MAD Farmer is a proxy, hired by an offshore service provider engaged by Empire Management. Finally, Invest. One holds an account in Puerto Rico with Euro Pacific Bank.
The make-up of the Offshore Investigation Vehicle is known at varying degrees, according to who is looking and from where it is been looked at: agents, proxies, shareholders, directors and authorities can all see a different, limited, facet of the Vehicle.
Offshore, under Seychelles law, IBCs are exempt from both taxation and public disclosure of any company information, thus hiding Empire Management’s ownership of Invest. One. Taken at face value, the two companies are unrelated.
Onshore, the legal requirement to file corporate resolutions with Companies House, the UK’s registrar of companies, are vague. Companies House is used less as a mandatory repository than as an online virtual gallery to display the Offshore Investigation Vehicle’s actions and intents. An opposite approach to the secretive one facilitated by offshore jurisdictions.
At the first general meeting of Empire Management, the company at the top of the structure, the Offshore Investigation Vehicle’s operations were collectively set by its shareholders. The adopted collective approach to using, and exposing, the offshore structure was agreed to be self-ironic and grotesque, challenging gloomy and disheartening narratives surrounding the topic.
The first operation is Offshore Spring/Summer 2018, an untaxed beachwear business which visually reveals, through diagrams and patterns, the Vehicle’s own offshoring tactics aimed at maximising its profits. The goal is that the business sell out, so that investors make a profit of 100% on their investment, while 0% taxes are paid, by means of shifting capital across jurisdictions — a widespread practice offshore.
The second is The Offshore Economist, a publication focusing on the ruptures and loopholes exploited by those invested, and investing, in offshore finance. The Offshore Economist pursues an aesthetic of offshore through visual forms, written fiction, poetry, legalese and an ever-shifting layout.
The third is KO UK, a tactical operation aimed at dismantling the Offshore Investigation Vehicle within a year from its formation and just before its companies’ paperwork is due. This makes the Vehicle’s activities harder to trace — a corporate tactic possible in the United Kingdom.