This database contains information on more than 785,000 offshore entities that are part of the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks investigations. The data links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.
The real value of the database is that it strips away the secrecy that cloaks companies and trusts incorporated in tax havens and exposes the people behind them. This includes, when available, the names of the real owners of those opaque structures. In all, the interactive application reveals more than 720,000 names of people and companies behind secret offshore structures. They come from leaked records and not a standardized corporate registry, so there may be duplicates. In some cases, companies are listed as shareholders for another company or a trust, an arrangement that often helps obscure the flesh-and-blood people behind offshore entities.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the data through four massive leaks:
- Paradise Papers (2017 & 2018): the data in the Offshore Leaks database comes from the offshore law firm Appleby and a trove of data from seven corporate registries. Appleby’s structured data was added in November 2017, and the corporate registries' data was incorporated December 19, 2017 (Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados and Nevis) and February 14, 2018 (Cook Islands, Malta and Samoa).
- Panama Papers (2016): the data comes from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose inner workings were exposed in the journalistic investigation published in April 2016 in conjunction with Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 media partners.
- Bahamas Leaks (2016): ICIJ added a third installment of information on September 21, 2016 as part of the Bahamas Leaks investigation based on a trove of data from the official corporate registry of the Bahamas.
- Offshore Leaks (2013): this was the first information added to this database when it was released in June 2013, which was then produced in conjunction with Costa Rican newspaper La Nación. This data covers a portion of offshore entities that were incorporated through Portcullis Trustnet (now Portcullis) and Commonwealth Trust Limited, two offshore service providers exposed as part of ICIJ’s 2013 Offshore Leaks exposé.
The database does not divulge raw documents or personal information en masse. It contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdictions, but it doesn’t disclose bank accounts, email exchanges and financial transactions contained in the documents.
ICIJ is publishing the information in the public interest. While many of the activities carried out through offshore entities are perfectly legal, extensive reporting by ICIJ and its media partners for more than five years has shown that the anonymity granted by the offshore economy facilitates money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and other crimes. Even when it’s legal, transparency advocates argue that the use of an alternative, parallel economy undermines democracy because it benefits a few at the expense of the majority.
Read more about why ICIJ is making this information public here.