What's in the Paradise Papers database of tax haven records and how to search it

A public database containing a slice of key data from the giant Paradise Papers leak, as well as older records from the Panama Papers, is now public. Here's what you will and won't find, and how to search it.

Leaked files contain identities of people behind hundreds of thousands of offshore accounts

The ICIJ's database allows searching for a person or offshore company by name and then mapping out links between people and offshore entities. (CBC)

Key data from the Paradise Papers, including the names of more than 3,000 Canadian individuals and companies, is now available to the public and searchable as part of a database of the world's biggest leaks of offshore financial records.

The database includes information from the Paradise Papers on more than 113,000 worldwide offshore companies and the people behind them, as well as hundreds of thousands more companies and people from earlier leaks like last year's Panama Papers and Bahamas leak.

Here's what you will and won't find, and how to search it.

1. Names, addresses, middlemen

The information released by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is what's known as "structured data." It's essentially like a corporate registry showing more than 500,000 offshore companies, foundations and trusts from multiple leaks, where you can check information about who played a role in those entities.

The companies included so far from the Paradise Papers were all created, managed or handled at some point by Appleby, one of the biggest offshore law firms in the world, with branches in eight tax havens. Information on other companies comes from separate data leaks in the Bahamas, Panama, Cook Islands and British Virgin Islands.

You can search by:   

  • The name or address of anyone listed as a director or shareholder of an offshore company.
  • The names and addresses of 25,000 offshore companies from the Paradise Papers.
  • The names and addresses of 214,000 offshore companies from the Panama Papers.
  • The names of 175,000 companies and foundations in the Bahamas leak.
  • The identities of hundreds of intermediary agencies or middlemen that helped set up and run those accounts.

You can also narrow down your search to citizens of a particular country or corporations from a certain offshore jurisdiction.

2. Still secret

What you will likely not find in very many cases is the identity of the ultimate owner of an offshore corporation or account. That's because offshore corporations are usually set up using so-called nominees — people who serve as corporate administrators and shareholders on paper only, in order to disguise the true owners.

The real owners' names are buried deeper in the leaked material in records like passports, emails, bank account numbers, share certificates and due diligence checks. Because those kinds of records contain private information on people, the ICIJ is not making them public. 

3. Tell us

If you spot something you think CBC News should look into, let us know. Email (secure PGP key here) or send us files securely and anonymously using SecureDrop.

Watch CBC's The Fifth Estate on a Canadian "super scalper," as revealed in the Paradise Papers.