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Mauritius's Deputy Prime Minister Reassures OECD

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

24 December 2008

During a recent visit to Europe, Mauritius’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Rama Sithanen defended Mauritian businesses and Mauritius’s position as a tenable offshore jurisdiction, and consequently urged the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development not to regard Mauritius as a ‘tax haven’.

In an interview conducted with the newspaper le Mauricien, Sithanen alluded to talks held in London, Berlin and Paris, with respective government members, and a representative of the OECD.

Endeavouring to promote the image of Mauritius within the financial services sector, and keen to assuage OECD concerns, Sithanen reassured those present of the integrity of the Global Business Centre in Mauritius, emphasising that Mauritius has an “effective exchange of information mechanism”, demonstrating its commitment to transparency, coupled with efficient legislation, regulated by the Financial Services Commission, and designed to combat money laundering and terrorist activities.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s comments come in the wake of proposals by leaders from the OECD member nations to implement a new crackdown on offshore financial centres, aimed at tighter regulation of the global financial system. The initiative, led by the governments of France and Germany, could lead to the drawing up of a new ‘black list’ of offshore jurisdictions still deemed to be 'uncooperative' or with tight banking secrecy and confidentiality laws.

However, Mauritius has already made great strides in improving its reputation. In the last few years it has implemented deep-seated reforms, aimed at tackling the issue of money laundering, notably through the establishment of the Financial Services Commission and the Financial Services Promotion Agency, the modernisation of the Companies Act and the introduction of a new Trusts Act. It has also entered into a considerable number of double-tax treaties, based on the OECD model treaty, and containing exchange of information clauses.

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