The AML/CFT Bill was read for the first time in the National Assembly on 23 June 2020 with the objective of continuing the fundamental reforms which the Mauritian Government initiated a few years ago in the financial services sector. In order to ensure closer compliance with recommended international best practices and norms of the Financial Action Task Force, various enactments were amended to reinforce the existing legal provisions on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Through the AML/CFT Bill the Mauritian Government ambitions to amend the following pieces of legislation:
- Banking Act
- Civil Status Act
- Companies Act
- Co-operatives Act
- Dangerous Drugs Act
- Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act
- Financial Reporting Act
- Financial Services Act
- Foundations Act
- Gambling Regulatory Authority Act
- Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act
- Immigration Act
- Jewellery Act
- Limited Liability Partnerships Act
- Limited Partnerships Act
- Mauritius Revenue Authority Act
- Notaries Act
- Prevention of Corruption Act
- United Nations (Financial Prohibitions, Arms Embargo and Travel Ban)Sanctions Act 2019.
In relation to the Companies Act, changes are proposed in order to reinforce the concept of beneficial ownership, including identification and record keeping. Changes are also being proposed to the Financial Services Act, one of which concerns the factors on which the Financial Services Commission of Mauritius will rely in order to carry out onsite inspections.
The Mauritian Government is also suggesting amendments to the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act to include new provisions on the obligations and manner in which Suspicious Transactions Reports are filed.
Furthermore, it is proposed that the test for reasonable suspicion is amended so that the term “suspicious transaction” designates a transaction which gives rise to a reasonable suspicion that it may involve (a) the laundering of money or the proceeds of any crime or (b) funds linked or related to, or to be used for, the financing of terrorism or proliferation financing or, any other activities or transaction related to terrorism as specified in the Prevention of Terrorism Act or under any other enactment, regardless of whether the funds represent the proceeds of a crime.
Amendments are also being proposed regarding the threshold for financial transactions applicable to certain members of a relevant profession (as defined under the FIAMLA) from ‘financial transactions equal to or above 100,000 rupees’ [±USD 2,703] to ‘a total cumulative financial transaction equal to or above 200,000 rupees, on any given date’ [±USD 5,406]. This proposed amendment focuses on persons licensed by the Gambling Regulatory Authority.
The Mauritian Government also proposes to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act in order to provide for fines where an offence is committed by a legal person. In this regard, any legal person who commits an offence under the relevant provision shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 10 million rupees [±USD 270,270].
We will update you with a detailed note on the amendments actually voted by the National Assembly under the AML/CFT Bill once the procedures for its coming into force are completed.
Sharvada Bholla-Thoda, Regional Compliance Officer, and Vaishali Damonaiko, pupil to Sharmilla Bhima, helped with the preparation of this article.