Behind the paywall : The Cayman Islands General Registry
Photo CC Flickr User KatieThebeauIn the world of open data, there are vast swathes of corporate information available to all those with access to a computer and an internet connection. This is the type of data that we specialise in at Arachnys. A great deal of due diligence information is freely available: 80-90% of business information sources that we come across provide at least basic registration details for free; however it is not uncommon for sources to require either a login or payment (often both) to access the additional data. Most commonly, these will be news sites and corporate registries. These sources are still listed on Arachnys but access restrictions limit us from actually searching them.
So, what information is actually available behind these paywalls, and is an open source intelligence analyst missing out on valuable data by not using them?
This will be the first in a series of blogs that will go behind the paywall of a few select paywalled corporate registries, allowing you to see the quality of information available. Restricted corporate registries broadly fall into 3 categories, those that require personal information for signup, those that require a fee and those that require both. This blog focuses on the General Registry of the Cayman Islands which is a high-profile registry, owing to the Cayman Island’s status as an offshore financial centre. Access to it requires both signup and payment.
The Cayman registry signup is simple and, true to Cayman style, asks very little of us. After this, we can perform an unlimited number of searches by entity name which return the names - just the names, no numbers or anything - of matching entities. Access to more detailed information costs 36.59 USD.
For the purposes of this post, we have picked a entity at random from the Cayman registry: Abax Lotus Ltd. A quick web search tells us that this is an entity part of a wider business structure based in China so a corporate registry should throw up some interesting details.
36.59 USD buys the details of one entity for 24 hours. For this entity, Abax Lotus Ltd, the details provided include entity name, file number, entity type and registered office address. This is representative of the data available behind this particular paywall.
From this entry we see that Abax Lotus was officially registered in the Cayman Islands in May 2007 and is still active (in the sense that it has not been dissolved).
The main relevant information that we get from this is the name of the company’s registered agent (as part of its registered office address). In this case it’s the address of Intertrust Corporate Services (Cayman) Limited, part of the large trust and corporate services group Intertrust. Here, we cannot draw too many strong conclusions, but in another investigation of a potentially related group of companies, realising that they share a common corporate services agent can be important information.
Beyond this, there is frankly little information available from the official registry.
However, just because an entity’s registration details are scanty and paywalled doesn’t mean that we can’t find useful data on them. In this situation, our first piece of advice would be many of the companies registered in the Cayman registry have international operations - in particular, they are very often corporate vehicles for trading in (more open) jurisdictions like the United States.
For example, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all companies, both foreign and domestic, listed on a US stock exchange to file company details and disclose various information, including (in many cases) on companies’ owners and managers. Much of this is available online through a system charmingly named EDGAR.
Searching EDGAR for Abax Lotus gives (for free) much more information than our $36-and-change bought us from Cayman. The mailing address given is the same address as Abax Global Capital (AGC), which may well indicate that AGC is its parent company (outlined in pink). The types of forms that Abax Lotus has and hasn’t filed is also a useful indicator of the type of company that Abax Lotus is. It hasn’t filed 10-K, 10-Q or 8-K forms; these forms are essentially performance reports filed at regular time periods throughout the year. It has, however, filed 3, 4, 13D and 13G forms; these forms all pertain to ownership. From these filings, we can conclude that it is not a company listed on the stock exchange but is an owner in at least one company that is listed on the stock exchange.
Looking at the filings in depth shows how Abax Lotus fits into a large corporate ownership structure in China. The company has stakes in China Mobile Media Technology, Sinoenergy Corp, China Natural Gas and Harbin Electric. These companies are co-owned in a group with other Abax companies, as well as Xiang Dong Yang, co-founder of AGC. Whilst it is not made explicit who the owners of Abax Lotus are, there are suggestions that AGC and ultimately, AGC’s co-founder, Xiang Dong Yang are its beneficial owners.
Diving into the various documents available through EDGAR can give us a whole host of further information, including other affiliated companies, managers and other individuals associated with the company.
As this series continues we will be going behind the paywall of various paywalled corporate registries around the world to show you exactly what you are getting for your money. Along the way, we will also be highlighting ways in which it is able to find related, useful data using open data sources.
Topics: / Behind the paywall