No change of legislation on bank secrecy

Clients have expressed their concern to GF&A after having read in the press that the authorities of Mauritius have agreed to enact a new set of regulations that would allow the disclosure of Trust's accounts to the tax authorities of the settlor's or beneficiaries'. Clients wishing to keep their business confidential were considering closing down their Trust account in Mauritius and moving it to another jurisdiction.

GF&A have checked the accuracy of the information with its correspondent firm in Mauritius and it appears that it has no basis.

There is no forthcoming legislation whereby all accounts held by non-residents will be automatically disclosed to the tax authorities of the country of residence of the beneficiary, subject only to the government of Mauritius having agreed to be bound by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) but this is relevant only with respect to accounts held by US residents. 

There is no Register of Trusts in Mauritius and Trusts are not regulated by the Financial Services Commission (“FSC”).

Some Trusts may hold shares in either one of the two types of “offshore” companies in Mauritius namely, the Category 1 Global Business Company or so-called “GLB1” and the Category 2 Global Business Company or so-called “GLB2”. The identity of the beneficial owners of both these types of companies are disclosed to the FSC, but this is nothing new and has always been the case. As a result if there is a Trust holding shares in any of these companies, the identity of the Settlor (and to the extent where distributions have been made to them) of the Beneficiaries have to be disclosed to the FSC. Conversely, there is no disclosure requirement whatsoever with respect to a Trust which does not hold shares in either a GLB1 or a GLB2.

In any event, no information pertaining to offshore companies can be made available to the public. Should any overseas regulatory authority require information about either a GLB1 or GLB2 or a trust holding shares in a GLB1 or a GLB2, the FSC will not disclose the information unless so provided under a Member of Understanding (MOU) between the institutions or between Mauritius and the interested country. GF&A can provide advice on the existence of a MOU, its interpretation and enforcement with regard to each country involved.

In the absence of a MOU the overseas regulatory body will have to obtain a Court order, which will require some prima-facie evidence of a financial crime having been committed.

Alternatively, an overseas tax authority may approach the Mauritius Revenue Authority (“MRA”) but not only is that dependent upon a MOU having been entered into between the relevant authorities or interested countries, the MRA has made a point already that it will not entertain “fishing expeditions” and will only provide information so far as it has convinced itself that a financial crime has occurred.

The conclusion is clearly that Mauritius remains a highly attractive jurisdiction by world standards in spite of some rumors having been spread around.

April 2015

News of the firm

September 2018


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