Just over a week ago, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a searchable database of companies, people, and addresses named in the Panama Papers. In addition to the online search tool, the ICIJ also released a downloadable version of the same information. Below is a brief overview on how to download the database, and information on its content and uses.
How do I download the database?
While the ICIJ makes the database accessible in a few different formats and methods for downloading, the easiest way for the majority of people to access the files will be through the comma separated value (CSV) file link on this page. All of the CSV files contained in the download can be opened in Excel.
If you are technically minded or feeling ambitions, the ICIJ also made a distribution of the graph database Neo4j available with the data in it. This allows users to query the database and visually explore the connections between people and companies. Something to keep in mind, this method will require you to download the Neo4j software on your computer, which may not be allowed by your company’s IT department.
What’s in the file?
Once you download and unzip the folder, you will see the five files contained below. As mentioned previously, all of the included CSV files can be opened in Excel.
Below are the descriptions from the ICIJ to understand what each file contains.
Offshore Entity: A company, trust or fund created in a low-tax, offshore jurisdiction by an agent.
Officer: A person or company who plays a role in an offshore entity.
Intermediary: A go-between for someone seeking an offshore corporation and an offshore service provider — usually a law-firm or a middleman that asks an offshore service provider to create an offshore firm for a client.
Address: Contact postal address as it appears in the original databases obtained by ICIJ.
You will also notice the “all_edges.csv” file; this can be disregarded. It’s purpose is to map the links between the parties in the file for graphing relationships.
More than the Panama Papers
While the Panama Papers have gotten all of the recent publicity, the above files also contain data from the ICIJ’s previous “Offshore Leaks” investigation. The Offshore Leaks Database contains more than 100,000 companies, trusts and funds created in offshore locales such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands and Singapore. Below is information from an ICIJ article when the data was released in June, 2013.
The data are part of a cache of 2.5 million leaked offshore files ICIJ analyzed with 112 journalists in 58 countries. Since April, stories based on the data — the largest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization…
How can I use this information?
A definitive way to utilize this information is to analyze it for trends or patterns that could have a risk impact on your company. There are several data mining solutions that could help with this task, but the majority of people reading this will be limited to analyzing the data in Excel. Luckily, one of the most useful tools to extract significant information from large and detailed data sets are pivot tables, which are available in Excel (tutorial).
For example, if you are looking to identify frequently used addresses by shell entities, a pivot table of the address field of the “Entities.csv” would produce the below most frequently used addresses.
In addition, once the information is summarized it can easily be visualized using Excel’s charting features. Below is a chart based on a pivot table of the country field in the “Entities.csv” file.
The above examples are the very tip of the iceberg of what is possible with the data. And even if you don’t have a need to review the above files, the ability to create pivot tables and analyze large data sets is a tremendous advantage to all financial crime compliance professionals.