A perfect storm of increased enforcement scrutiny, global scandals and new regulations on beneficial ownership have ratcheted up the importance of thorough due diligence on corporations and other legal entities in recent months.
Yet obtaining information on companies, especially shell corporations formed offshore, can still sometimes be a challenging and haphazard affair, requiring both persistence and creativity. One bright spot for financial crime professionals tasked with hunting down beneficial owners and other information on corporations – there are a multiplying number of open sources online that can be utilized, and may even help those with access to paid services and vendor-supplied applications.
From one-stop shops for corporate registries all around the world to open-access databases, below are five open sources to support your dive into the murky world of global corporations.
The ACFCS Resource Round-Up is a new feature from ACFCS highlighting open-source tools, databases, information sources and other resources that can be potentially useful for financial crime compliance, investigations and due diligence. As with all online open sources, these tools each have their own limitations, so users must always employ their own discretion in accessing these tools and validating and interpreting any results obtained.
Billing itself as “the largest open database of companies in the world,” OpenCorporates allows easy searching of company information and corporate officers in 105 jurisdictions. The information available on companies isn’t always particularly detailed, but the size and scope of searchable corporate entities included is impressive.
IntelTechniques Resource Library
A huge link library for conducting open-source investigations, curated by experienced open-source investigator Michael Bazzell. Includes links to everything from custom search tools, to people search databases, to domain tools, to public records and much more. The array of resources available here can be overwhelming, but the depth and breadth is impressive, and everyone from beginners to seasoned investigators is likely to find something of value here.
Library of Corporate Registries by RBA Information Services
Created by an open-source intelligence consultant in the UK, this resource contains links to dozens of corporate registries in nations and jurisdictions around the globe, as well as links to other sites and databases that all together compile nearly every nation’s corporate registry available online. Helpfully, the page also briefly describes the incorporation process and what information can be found in the registry for each country, jurisdiction and US state listed.
Investigative Dashboard, by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
This site includes a deep array of resources to support investigations, due diligence, negative news screening and general research and analysis. Created for use by investigative journalists but open to the public, it hosts an impressive library of external databases, including links to corporate registries and business records around the globe, a visualization tool to map connections between persons and entities, an investigative file manager, and other functions.
Dirt Diggers Digest Guide to Strategic Corporate Research
Created by a non-profit organization for use by other watchdog groups, this guide is a sprawling overview on conducting research into corporate entities. It is more tailored to in-depth research or investigative reporting than routine due diligence, and has a definite editorial slant, but can be particularly useful as a reference on the many types of information that can be obtained on companies, from regulatory filings to import/export records and much more. Some of the resources referenced are paid databases and research tools.