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Mauritius Enacts Law on Fraud, Corruption

Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

26 June 2000

Mauritius, like other offshore financial centres, is concerned at the damage which can be done by crimes such as fraud and corruption and the Mauritian parliament in Port-Louis has now passed a bill which the island intends to apply in fighting economic crimes of this nature.

Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam said that his government has made a commitment in front of the international community to combat fraud and corruption. He said 'We shall co-operate and join forces with all those who have the same mission' and confirmed that the government was investigating three international companies that may have been involved in activities which were potentially harmful to the reputation of Mauritius as a financial centre. 'If that is shown to be so, they will be struck off the register,' he said.

Under the new legislation, international companies will be required by law to verify the identity of customers, keep records and make them available upon a court order. After the law becomes effective, those companies will be required to report to the authorities any suspicious transaction.

The new bill comes at a time when some other jurisdictions are fighting allegations of money laundering and Mauritius will of course not only want to keep its own nose clean but perhaps also use the opportunity to attract more business to the island by giving a message that as a financial centre, Mauritius is (or at least is trying to be) whiter than white.

Mauritius was one of the six offshore jurisdictions that sent letters of commitment to the OECD before publication of the FATF's 'back-list' last week. It is not known what specific commitments the Mauritian authorities made, but it is worth recalling that Mauritius is one of the few offshore jurisdictions with close historical links to France. Given the FATF's location in Paris, and the likelihood that the French authorities played a central role in the negotiations with errant jurisdictions in the run-up to publication of the list, it is no surprise that Mauritius should have been obliged to 'toe the line'.


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