Panel discussion: 'Uncovering the offshore world: how researchers investigate shell companies, international wealth managers and transnational informal economies'

Past Event

13 June 2023, 5:00pm - 6:30pm

Oxford Martin School & Online
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Event Recording:

According to the Tax Justice Network, up to $32 trillion in hidden assets are held in offshore tax havens.

The increasing outflow of money into the offshore world starves developing countries of government revenues, enables kleptocrats to hide their illicitly acquired wealth, and allows global multinational companies to lawfully avoid paying hundreds of billions in taxes. Until recently, we lacked comprehensive and detailed academic studies for understanding the scope and inner workings of the offshore system.

This panel brings together three leading scholars to discuss their path-breaking research on important aspects of the offshore world and financial system. Beyond sharing their latest research findings on global tax havens, the global citizenship market, wealth asset management, and the informal economy, our panelists will discuss the research and investigative techniques that they have pioneered to reveal important dimensions of the offshore world.


  • Kimberly Hoang, University of Chicago, author of Spiderweb Capitalism: How global elite exploit frontier markets
  • Brooke Harrington, Dartmouth College, author of ​Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent
  • Kristin Surak, LSE, author of ​The Golden Passport: Global Mobility for Millionaires
  • Moderated by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira

Harrington Brooke

Professor Brooke Harrington
Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College

Brooke Harrington is Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College. Prior to joining the faculty of Dartmouth, she was a professor at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, as well as at Brown University in the United States. In addition, she has held visiting scholar positions at Princeton University, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the Santa Fe Institute, the Max Planck Institute (Cologne, Germany) and the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). Professor Harrington holds a BA with honors in English Literature from Stanford University, as well as an MA and PhD in Sociology from Harvard University.

Her book on global wealth management, tax, and offshore banking, titled Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent, was published in September 2016 by Harvard University Press and became a best-seller, as well as winning an “Outstanding Book Award” from the American Sociological Association. Professor Harrington’s previous books include Pop Finance: Investment Clubs and Stock Market Populism (Princeton University Press, 2008), and Deception: From Ancient Empires to Internet Dating (Stanford University Press, 2009).

She has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London, and is an accredited Trust and Estate Planner.

Kimberly Kay Hoang

Professor Kimberly Hoang
Director of Global Studies, University of Chicago

Kimberly Kay Hoang is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the College and the Director of Global Studies at the University of Chicago.

Dr Hoang is the author of Spiderweb Capitalism: How Global Elites Exploit Frontier Markets ( Princeton University Press, 2022); Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work (2015) published by the University of California Press.

Spiderweb Capitalism provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the rich and powerful use offshore shell corporations to conceal their wealth and make themselves richer. Drawing on rich interview data this book uncovers the mechanics behind the invisible, mundane networks of lawyers, accountants, company secretaries, and fixers who facilitate the illicit movement of wealth across borders and around the globe.

Her work has been published in American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Gender & Society, City & Community, Contexts, and the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Her peer reviewed journal articles have won over 12 prizes and honorable mentions from the Sociologists for Women in Society, Vietnam Scholars Group, and the American Sociological Association: Section on Global & Transnational Sociology, Section on Race, Gender and Class, Section on Sociology of Sex & Gender, Section on Sociology of Body and Embodiment, Section on Asia and Asian America, and the Section on Sexualities.

Surak Kristin

Professor Kristin Surak
Associate Professor in Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Kristin Surak is Associate Professor of Political Sociology at the LSE and the author of The Golden Passport: Global Mobility for Millionaires (Harvard University Press 2023).

Her research on elite mobility, international migration, nationalism, and politics has been translated into a half-dozen languages. In addition to publishing in major academic and intellectual journals, she also writes regularly for popular outlets, including the London Review of Books, Washington Post, the Guardian, New Statesman, and the New Left Review. Her book Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice (Stanford University Press 2013) received the Book of the Year Award from the American Sociological Association’s Asian Section.

She has held several internationally recognised positions, including Richard B. Fischer Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University, Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for Japanese Arts and Cultures. She is a Lifetime Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, and has been a visiting professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and New York University in Abu Dhabi. The American Academy of Political and Social Science has recognized her scholarship, which has been funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Japan Foundation, Fulbright-Hays Foundation, and Leverhulme Foundation, among others.

Ricardo Soares De Oliveira

Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira
Director, Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance (Moderator)

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is Professor of the International Politics of Africa at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Official Fellow of St Peter's College, and a Fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin.

He is the joint editor of African Affairs, the journal of the Royal African Society. He is the author of Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the civil war and Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea. He has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust/British Academy Senior Research Fellowship for 2023-24 and is currently writing a book titled Africa Offshore.