According to a post on their website, this past weekend The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a database purporting to name individuals from around the world using offshore companies and trusts that they claim “will help begin to strip away this secrecy across 10 offshore jurisdictions.”
The Offshore Leaks Database “allows users to search through more than 100,000 secret companies, trusts and funds created in several offshore locales. . . .” According to the site, the Offshore Leaks web app, developed by La Nación newspaper in Costa Rica for ICIJ, displays graphic visualizations of offshore entities and the networks around them, including, when possible, the company’s true owners.
The database includes entities incorporated in 10 offshore jurisdictions:
· British Virgin Islands
· Cayman Islands
· Cook Islands
· Hong Kong
According to the site the information comes from two offshore service firms: Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL).
The ICIJ points out that using offshore entities is not in and of itself illegal, nor is it indicative of illegal activities. For those compliant taxpayers desiring confidentiality it must be kept in mind that confidentiality is not airtight and choice of service provider and jurisdiction is critical.