Corporate records worldwide
Investigative Dashboard’s Worldwide Company Data is probably the most comprehensive listing of websites and databases where information on companies in more than 150 jurisdictions can be found. The Dashboard is a project of the nonprofit Overseas Crime and Corruption Reporting Project based in Sarajevo, the International Center for Journalists in the U.S. and the Forum for African Investigative Reporters.
Open Corporates calls itself “The Open Database of the Corporate World.” It contains information scraped from online corporate registers in more than 50 jurisdictions, including offshore havens like Panama and Bermuda. The site allows searches by company name, country, director name and other keywords. So far it has records of more than 400 million companies worldwide.
The Corporate Intelligence Project has links to corporate registries in 50 states of the U.S. and 65 countries around the world. It also enables searches for U.S. government watch lists and regulatory agencies.
The UK Companies house has a useful Links Page. At the bottom of that page is a list of links to selected worldwide registers.
Rhodes-Blake Associates’ Official Company Registers has a list of corporate registers worldwide. The site provides links and explanations on what the registers contain, but is not as comprehensive as the Investigative Dashboard’s list. RBA is a private company that provides training on the use of technology to manage information.
The website of Commercial Register Office of the Canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland has a page called Company Registration around the World that links to corporate registers around the world. The list is not comprehensive but is particularly good on Europe.
Offshore Leaks Database , put together by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, this searchable database contains ownership information about companies created in 10 offshore jurisdictions including the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore. It covers nearly 30 years until 2010.
Company records (National)
Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS): for-pay database kept by the Hong Kong Internal Revenue Department allows searches by company or director name. Annual returns list board members, their addresses and passport or ID numbers. Searches can be done in English or Chinese.
Hong Kong Exchange: posts interim & annual reports of listed companies as well as required disclosures (e.g. acquisition of more than 15% of shares of a company, change of senior executives)
State Administration for Industry and Commerce: lists registered companies (Chinese website only), but the registry is incomplete; contains links to other branches of SAIC around the country.
Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority: corporate search: http://www.acra.gov.sg/
Monetary Authority of Singapore: OPERA database: prospectus & other documents on public offering of shares & securities , including stop orders http://masnet.mas.gov.sg/opera/sdrprosp.nsf
Court records worldwide
Worldwide Court Records
The World Legal Information Institute has links to court sites worldwide. In addition, many countries have commercial databases of court records. Court records provide crucial information not just on alleged wrongdoing, but also a list of litigation enemies who can be interviewed. Get the docket report, which provides a schedule and summary of the court proceedings, as well as a list of documents produced. Key documents: complaint, affidavits, notice of deposition, exhibits.
- To find court cases in Federal Courts, check PACER – the US Party Case Index at https://pacer.login.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl?court_id=00idx. There is a fee for searching and for downloading.
- You can also download the Firefox extension at https://www.recapthelaw.org, which will allow you to view for free court documents that have been downloaded from PACER by others
- Justia – http://dockets.justia.com/ – a free site that has most of the cases on PACER, but not all
Hong Kong and China
There is no comprehensive database of court judgments; judges may choose to submit judgments or not and also decide when to submit; China records are even more spotty.
- Official site of HK judiciary: incomplete but searchable database of court cases; searches can be done by case number and keywords
- Lexis China Online: a subscription-based database, has China and Hong Kong litigation records.
- Westlaw China: also subscription-based, translates court documents into English. Like Lexis, the database is searchable by case number, parties names and keywords.
- Chinalawinfo.com : free database of court judgements, but cases are limited.
- D-law: relatively new database of Hong Kong litigation, includes schedules of hearings, more comprehensive than other databases but still not complete; links to company registration database and to judgments; has database on distraint cases (i.e. those filed against delinquent tenants) and others.
- For civil cases: writs of summons (say who sues whom and why), mostly available for inspection and copying at the HK Supreme Court
Airplanes and real estate
Different jurisdictions put different amounts of data online. Some make the information easily accessible. Others do not. Take a look at these three sites to understand the differences in what property databases offer:
Harris County (Houston), Texas: www.hcad.org
Los Angeles County: http://assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/datamaps/pais.aspx
New York City: http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/Scripts/Coverpage.dll/index
There are two other sites with pretty useful property information–Zillow.com and trulia.com. They list homes for sales, property tax appraisal information, etc.
If records are not online, that doesn’t necessarily mean the records are not public. You may simply need to call up the assessor or county clerk and ask. This information is generally public and easy to access.
You can look up airplane owners at http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/, but be aware that airplanes can be registered in the names of spouses, trusts, corporations or subsidiaries. So again, be careful.
Once you know an airplane tail number, you can look for recent travels involving the plane at www.flightaware.com.
Hong Kong Land Registry: searches can be done online for a fee or at the registry itself at at High Block, Queensway Government Offices. Records list present and past owners, transactions (sale of property and price); mortgage details (bank name, amount)
INLIS (Integrated Land Information Service)
Available information & guide: http://www.inlis.gov.sg/Layout/How_to_Use_Inlis.aspx
U.S. Government Databases
US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) – All individuals and entities lobbying or doing public relations work on behalf of foreign governments must register with the Department of Justice and disclose the amounts they spent and their activities. These filings are can be searched in the DOJ’s FARA database.
Pro Publica and the Sunlight Foundation digitized the FARA filings in the foreign lobbying database that allows you to see, for example, how many times an individual member of congress has been contacted by foreign lobbyists.
OFAC, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, under the Treasury Department keeps a Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons List, which lists organizations and individuals with whom the US is banned from doing business – these are terrorists, narco-traffickers, groups like Al-Qaeda whose assets blocked and are prohibited from coming to the US.
The Denied Persons List contains names of those denied export privileges by Commerce Department.
The Debarred List is maintained by the State Department and it lists individuals and companies banned from participating in the export of defense articles.
Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts – The Columbia Library has digitized State Department listings of key personnel in U.S. embassies worldwide since 1982.