CPA SME Discussion Group: A peek into the workings of offshore havens

Ben Sewell, an experienced insolvency lawyer and adviser, will be meeting accountant and industry groups across Australia to give a one hour presentation on offshore tax havens.

The topic is of interest to any professional adviser with clients that have interests in offshore haven jurisdictions.

Seminar title: A peek into the workings of offshore havens

  • What does the Mossack Fonseca information tell us?
  • What is the terminology of the offshore havens?
  • What are the differences between Australian law and the law of the offshore havens?
  • What are the take-aways for Australian professional advisers?


Offshore havens have recently captured our imagination through the Panama Papers leak. A trove of client data (2.6 terabytes of data containing 11.5 million records) from a Panamanian Law firm was leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ’s website provides a search engine with offshore haven company ownership information from the leaked documents as well as educational videos and articles ( The journalists are still analysing the Mossack Fonseca materials themselves and writing articles about the use of offshore havens by the wealthy and powerful around the world.

The ICIJ reports the two most popular offshore havens are the British Virgin Islands and Panama. Those jurisdictions prefer the title “offshore financial centre” to offshore haven or tax haven. The British Virgin Islands (Norman Island) was reputedly the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate novel Treasure Island. Today, according to the ICIJ, there is still treasure hidden in the same islands, metaphorically at least.

To attend the seminar please contact the group’s organiser Brian Carter (

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