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The Paradise Island finally gleams on the whitelists as Financial Action Task Force approved

Article by Dev R Erriah of Erriah Chambers Mauritius

At the conference which was held on the 19 to 21 October 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (hereinafter referred to as the “FATF”) consented to the eradication of Mauritius from the FATF Grey list.

This resolution came after the recommendation put forward by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) of the FATF, which was satisfied of the progress made by Mauritius in combatting money laundering and terrorist financing and of the completion of its Plan of Action during the on-site inspection conducted on the 13 to15 September 2021.

Now that Mauritius has been whitelisted by the FATF, the country awaits its impending delisting from the EU Blacklist. It shall be recollecting that Mauritius was placed in the FATF Grey List in February 2020, as a result of strategic loopholes and deficiencies identified in its AML/CFT framework. The European Union ultimately followed suit in May 2020 and as a result decided to include Mauritius on the EU Blacklist effective as from 1 October 2020.

It is apposite to note that, last year, Mauritius made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and the Eastern & Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and since then, the Government moved beyond rhetoric and pledges; it worked relentlessly alongside key stakeholders and the relevant representatives of the private sector to address the numerous loopholes.

At the conference which held in June 2021, the FATF applauded the advance achieved by the country and took note of the key ameliorates made to its AML/CFT framework, as follows:

  1. conducting outreach to promote understanding of ML and TF risks and obligations;
  2. developing risk-based supervision plans effectively for the Financial Services Commission;
  3. ensuring access to accurate basic and beneficial ownership information by competent authorities in a timely manner; and
  4. providing training for law enforcement authorities to ensure that they have the capability to conduct money laundering investigations.

Simultaneously, Mauritius made an application earlier this year, for the re-rating of FATF Recommendations 8, 24 and 33 by the ESAAMLG and these were upgraded as follows:

  • Recommendation 8 (Non-Profit Organisations): from Non-Compliant to Largely Compliant
  • Recommendation 24 (Transparency and Beneficial Ownership of Legal Persons): from Partially Compliant to Largely Compliant
  • Recommendation 33 (Statistics): from Partially Compliant to Compliant

The Paradise Island is now acquiescent in 39 out of the 40 FATF Recommendations on Technical Compliance, with only Recommendation 15 (New Technologies) rated as Partially acquiescent.

Mauritius has had its equitable share of challenges over the previous year and its delisting from the FATF Grey list and subsequent eradication from the EU Blacklist will certainly banish the mass of riskiness that levitated over it. As opposed to general belief, the challenges presented by the addition of Mauritius on the FATF Grey List have not been totally damaging and not advantageous to the island. If anything, they have helped it emerge as a resilient jurisdiction that prioritizes transparency and adherence to international best practices and where the public and private sectors work simultaneously to brace the very footing of the island’s wealth.

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