Truly: if we were serious about crime, we’d take most of the cops off the streets and replace them with accountants. Taking down the financial underpinnings of a criminal enterprise is way more effective than busting their entry level contractors.
Money laundering can be incredibly simple — Joe sells weed, Bill has a sandwich shop. Joe needs pay stubs so he can buy a house, Bill’s shop isn’t making quite enough money yet. Joe hands Bill $500 in cash a day, Bill puts Joe on payroll. Joe gets 50%, all legal money Bill rings the $500 through the cash register as 10 extra orders, pays Joe (including payroll taxes), and keeps the rest as profit.
Assuming Joe doesn’t get busted, this can continue indefinitely as long as they keep trusting each other.
The 11,000 Nevisians, by contrast, host six domestic banks, one international bank, 18 insurance managers, seven international insurance entities, four money service businesses and 58 registered agents, many of them law firms. Nevis may be the most over-lawyered place on earth.
When you get off the ferry, almost the first house you see is the Henville building, nominal home to the Azerbaijan first family’s business empire. If you then turn right at the T-junction, you see the Edith Solomon building (although it has lost two of the letters from its name), which hosted an Idaho payday loan company that was shut down by the state government in 2012, for operating without a license. Barely 100 metres in the opposite direction on Main Street, meanwhile, is the office of Morning Star Holdings, pioneers of the Nevis offshore industry.
Project X-Ray is a crowdsourced effort sponsored by Distributed Denial of Secrets to identify the owners of offshore corporations who are contributing to global inequality. In many cases these corporate owners may have committed crimes beyond mere tax evasion. Many, but not all, of these offshore corporations file confidential updates to their respective corporate registries containing information on their officers and directors. Many of those secret documents are now available on this site. While the listed companies and individuals are often not the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (or UBO) of the offshore corporation, this information can still provide important clues to journalists and law enforcement officials.
…with enough volunteers around the world, the information can be digitized, standardized and verified using good old-fashioned typing.