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Diving into UK corporation ownership with Neo4j


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An overview of the DataKind UK's DataDive event in partnership with Global Witness in November 2016. The goal of the event was to explore the new "beneficial ownership" data collected by the UK government on UK registered companies. Part of this analysis involved building a graph model of the data and exploring some of the structures that were found.

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Diving into UK corporation ownership with Neo4j

  1. 1. Diving into the UK corporation ownership with Neo4j Adam Hill with the assistance of many, amazing volunteers
  2. 2. HELLO! I’m Adam Hill Data scientist & Recovering astrophysicist @astroadamh
  3. 3. DataKind UK acts as an intermediary introducing the charitable organisations to a community of data scientists who are prepared to donate some of their own time to deploy their data science skills for good works. One of the core ways this is done is through DataDives, the data science equivalent of a hackathon.
  4. 4. What was the challenge? Global Witness A not-for-profit organisation that campaigns against environmental and human rights abuses that are often derived from the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. Open Corporates The largest open database of companies in the world. Their aim is quite simple (though mammoth in scale) - to create a url for every single company in the world. The goal Using data from the original Companies House source, can we gain insight into UK companies and see if there is cause for further investigation as well as uncover any flaws in the data itself. Joined by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Spend Network 30-50 volunteers dived into the data, first prepping it for analysis with data wrangling and munging to then using different analytical techniques like fuzzy matching and network analysis to understand what the data might show.
  5. 5. A picture is worth a thousand words A complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.
  6. 6. Special shout-out De-duplicating people listed at Companies House is a nightmare! As Ned & Juan discovered... Check-out Ned’s solution:
  7. 7. What did we make?
  8. 8. Chains of control: It's quite easy to visualise the complexity of control amongst corporations by searching for some of the longest chains of control that exist in the database. Self control: A primary requirement of "beneficial ownership" is seeing which people and corporations ultimately own a company! So how do you own yourself?
  9. 9. Large corporate structures: One of the largest of the chains above is a partial map of the healthcare company Reckitt Benckiser. Looking at tax havens: Looking at connections to tax-haven countries is relatively straightforward as shown below in a network that shows people and UK companies linked back to the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.
  10. 10. Mega Owners: One curiosity was to look for who owned the most companies in the UK and the result was somewhat surprising. There are several individuals who report controlling interests in hundreds of companies. However, the companies typically have a single share valued at £1.
  11. 11. What was our impact?
  12. 12. What did we find? ●  Almost 3,000 companies (0.2% of the 1.3 million UK companies that have registered their beneficial ownership data) are owned by companies with tax haven addresses, implying they may not be paying full tax on their activities in the UK ●  76 people listed as beneficial owners matched names and birth month and year with a person on the U.S. sanctions list*, potentially raising issues of corrupt leadership ●  19 people’s names and birth month and year matched senior political figures, often referred to as Politically Exposed Persons*, raising questions of potential conflicts of interest ●  267 people whose name and birth month and year matched those of disqualified directors, ie people who have been banned from being company directors for not meeting their legal responsibilities.* *Without further investigation we don’t know if this match points to the same people, as the match is just birth month and year.
  13. 13. THANKS! Any questions? You can find me at: @astroadamh Presentation template by SlidesCarnival Further reading
  14. 14. “We are meticulously focused on bringing data science in all its forms to those who share our vision of a sustainable planet in which we all have access to our basic human needs. We envision a world where organizations tackling those problems have the same access to data science resources that Wall St. and Silicon Valley have.” Jake Porway, DataKind Founder