This week marks 12 months since ICIJ chose to publish the contents of its Offshore Leaks database to the public, revealing in full the names behind more than 100,000 secret companies and trusts created by two offshore services firms: Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL).
In January this year an additional 37,000 records of clients from Greater China were added, and today there are more than 170 countries represented in the full dataset.
The Offshore Leaks database was not a data dump; it was a careful release of basic corporate information, selected so as not to unveil personal data en masse.
How it has been used over the past 12 months has proved that publishing the data was in the public interest, and was indeed the right thing to do.
Users have racked up more than 7.25 million pageviews, looking through lists of clients by address and searching for people and companies by name.
The most popular search results reveal some of the public’s interest in the data – the names of politicians feature prominently, as do the big companies in the tech world, in banking, and large manufacturing brands across industries.
The most searched-for countries so far have been Belgium and Japan, followed by Austria, Sri Lanka, Germany, India, China, Canada and Argentina.
The spread of locations where users have logged in from also shows where interest has been greatest (Europe, Asia) – and where, perhaps, there is scope for more digging (the Americas, Oceania, Africa).
Ultimately, that was and remains ICIJ’s goal in publishing the data: allowing journalists and the general public to begin to strip away the secrecy and uncover the complexities of the shadowy offshore world by digging through the files themselves. Despite the size of the Secrecy for Sale series, there are more stories that need to be told, and injustices that need to be revealed.
You can access the database here, and please keep those tips coming. Thanks for your help so far!
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