Mauritius amends 19 laws to reinforce AML regime

Thursday, 23 July 2020
Mauritius has enacted the Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. The legislation amends 19 existing laws in order to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ant-money laundering (AML) recommendations, and thereby be removed from the European Commission's (EC’s) list of ‘high risk’ third countries.

In May 2020, the EC added Mauritius to its draft list of high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their money laundering prevention regimes, along with nine other jurisdictions. The Mauritius government issued a communiqué protesting its inclusion, noting that it was given no opportunity to make representations before the list was published, and that the EC did not have regard to the differences between countries on the FATF monitoring list.

Mauritius has moved to remedy the situation quickly. The new Act introduces the following amendments, among others:

  • new companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships and foundations must provide their beneficial ownership information to the Registrar of Companies upon incorporation and registration, and later when making certain mandatory filings. Existing entities will have to provide this information when requested by a competent authority;
  • regulated persons now have only five days from the discovery of a suspicious transaction, or from the reasonable belief that a suspicious transaction has been made, to file a suspicious transaction report to the Financial Intelligence Unit;
  • regulators, notably the Bank of Mauritius, have been given broader powers to supervise and examine the operations and affairs of their licensees. The Registrar of Companies and the Financial Services Commission are making increasingly frequent inspections of regulated entities' books and records.

Fines for non-compliance have been increased to a maximum of MUR10 million, with five-year prison sentences for serious offences.


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