The Offshore Investigation Vehicle (2017—2018) was an international corporate structure spanning three seas, set up to collectively model and explore offshore financial practices. It operated as a guide and a shield, providing access to a hidden world of insiders’ knowledge and gonzo financial opportunities, while guaranteeing the secrecy of the actions undertaken there.
Engaging directly with tax havens, legal loopholes, offshore banking, service providers, proxies and puppets, the Offshore Investigation Vehicle aimed to grasp the inner workings and the material and economic forces at play in offshore finance through their use. After its setup in 2017, the vehicle was opened for others to join: shares were issued, meetings called and businesses voted on. Engaging with an inherently inaccessible system, the Offshore Investigation Vehicle inverted the concealing purposes of similar ventures through a number of outcomes.
The vehicle existed through the paperwork created by the agents appointed in its formation, the proxies involved in its obfuscation and the shareholders invested in its operations. Findings from these processes are published as a PDF.
At the top was Empire Management Limited, a UK private limited company directed by Francesco Tacchini and Oliver Smith, members of the Demystification Committee. Offshore, Empire Management controlled Invest. One Limited, a Seychelles International Business Company (IBC) directed by Mark Andrew Derek Farmer, a puppet director. MAD Farmer was hired by an offshoring agent contracted by the Demystification Committee, under the guise of directors of Empire Management Limited. As he privately ceded control of the offshore company back to them, the Demystification Committee gained beneficial ownership of its asset: a bank account held in Puerto Rico with Euro Pacific Bank.
As of today, the corporate structure of the Offshore Investigation Vehicle is known at varying degrees to agents, proxies, shareholders, directors and authorities. Its many facets are at once crafted by service providers layering proxies, omitting informations and making convenient mistakes, and concealed by Seychelles law, which forbids public disclosure of information on any IBC, alongside exempting them from taxation. Taken at face value, the companies within the vehicle have always been unrelated.
In a grotesque inversion of standard tax haven practice, the Offshore Investigation Vehicle built absolute accountability through the display of corporate resolutions outlining its intents. These are publicly available at Companies House, the registrar of companies of the United Kingdom, more permanent virtual gallery than mandatory fulfilling.
At the first shareholder meeting of Empire Management Limited, the adopted approach to exploring offshore structure was agreed to be grotesque, challenging the disheartening narratives surrounding the topic in recent years. Three resolutions were voted:
• the launch of Offshore Spring/Summer 2018, a collection of beachwear to be sold online. The apparel’s diagrams and patterns visually reveal the vehicle’s own tactics to maximise profits and avoid taxes, with the goal to redistribute the tax savings to the shareholders.
• the publication of The Offshore Economist, pursuing an aesthetic of offshore through shifting form and content, featuring fiction, marginal poetry, fragmented legalese and revealing tricks.
• the dismantling of the Offshore Investigation Vehicle within a year of its formation, the threshold after which a UK limited company’s accounts are due. Dubbed as KO UK, the operation prevents detailed accountability on the vehicle’s stated intents from becoming public.