06 December 2018

Science: Private research funders court controversy with billions in secretive investments

A Science investigation of public records and documents known as the Paradise Papers has found that leading research philanthropies—including the Wellcome Trust and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—have invested more than $5 billion in offshore tax and secrecy havens. Some investments, such as those in highly polluting fuels, undermine the groups' charitable goals. Routine use of secretive funds raises questions about accountability and social responsibility. Critics say that when foundations lend their sterling reputations to offshore strategies, they help legitimize lawful but extreme tax avoidance, and provide cover for money laundering. Such practices deprive governments of revenue, worsening economic inequality.

30 November 2018

The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub Due to Launch in December after Appointment of New CEO

After two years of intensive development, the Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH) will be launching on the 5th of December.

Africa has immense potential for FinTech solutions, with 52% of all mobile transactions made to and from Africa, in spite of only 20% of the continent’s residents owning a bank account. Africa’s population is predicted to overtake China in 2025 with consumer spend reaching $1.3trn by 2030. In short, Africa is forecast to be one of the biggest growth stories over the next 20 years, yet less than 1% of FinTech investment has been made in Africa in recent years.

The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub has a clear vision of changing the outlook for the whole continent by acting as a catalyst in the regulatory environment and the pan African FinTech ecosystem.

MAFH is supported by the Mauritian government, regulatory authorities and financial service providers, both big and small. After years of planning, they have appointed Michal Szymanski as CEO, a seasoned veteran in the business incubation space, whose team is now actively preparing a tech hub environment, ready to provide help to investors, corporations, academia and entrepreneurs to harness the growth potential of FinTech.

Relative to the rest of the world, the FinTech industry in Africa has the greatest reach potential to positively influence the lives of its populations,” says Michal Szymanski, about the impact that he hopes the work of his organisation will have. “Our purpose is to serve the pan African FinTech ecosystem, in the regulatory environment and capacity building, while making Mauritius one of the world’s great FinTech hubs.This cannot be done alone or in isolation from cross border stakeholders, hence collaboration is key to unlocking Fintech innovations in Africa.

Mike Reese, a board member of MAFH, says he has “worked closely with the financial services community over the last 15 years as part of my early efforts in designing and supporting the implementation of the IFC (International Finance Centre) status for Mauritius. I understand deeply the opportunity that it has to act as an innovator in the future of finance for the sub-continent. Being the link to capture capital and investment while attracting global innovation to ready it for the progress and benefit of Africa is a natural step for Mauritius. It has the capacity, enthusiasm and creativity to serve and benefit all stakeholders including corporates and regulators. I personally look forward to seeing this island nation grow from strength the strength as catalyst to capture the world’s attention when it comes to FinTech in Africa.

28 November 2018

27 November 2018

The Institute of Export & International Trade - Doing Business In Mauritius

The main objective of this Doing Business in Mauritius Guide is to provide you with basic knowledge about Mauritius; an overview of its economy, business culture, potential opportunities and to identify the main issues associated with initial research, market entry, risk management and cultural and language issues.

24 November 2018

22 November 2018

Jersey Finance - The $30tn Great Wealth Transfer Can Be an ‘Evolution, Not Revolution’

A private wealth transfer worth $30 trillion between baby boomers and the current generation is imminent, but with ample professional advice there is no cause for undue stress, a Jersey-based report assures.

The recent report, Flourishing Futures: Making Succession a Success, by Jersey Finance demystifies the challenges around this much-talked phenomenon, with an insight into real succession-related problems HNWs face through a series of case studies provided by law firm Bedell Cristin. Presented as a 10-point guide for trustees, families and advisers, the report draws from Jersey’s experience as an international finance centre (IFC) holding over £400 billion worth of private wealth in trusts over a 50-year period.

‘[It’s an] evolution, not revolution,’ the report describes the succession planning attitude trustees need to adapt to ensure a smooth transition of wealth. From identifying the values of the wealth founding family to analysing the impact a nuptial agreement might have on the transfer, HNWs and their advisers worldwide need a comprehensive plan to accommodate the intergenerational transaction, it says. A case study within the report shows how Bedell Cristin had used these suggestions to help the new generation of a family whose founders survived a civil war in the 1900s, transfer the wealth into a Jersey foundation to provide aid for civil war refugees.

‘Jersey is widely regarded as one of the biggest trust centres in the world – there is a responsibility and obligation on us,’ Jersey Finance CEO Geoff Cook tells Spear’s about the rationale behind the study. 'We are stewarding so much value to create the platforms and the capabilities that allow HNWs to transfer or deploy their wealth in a way that they wish to’.

The recommendations in the guide reflect the many complexities HNW families from all corners of the globe, particularly those from the Middle East and Asia, where wealth accrual is so ‘phenomenal’ that for many this will be the first transfer after over 30 years. But only a quarter of these families have a strategy in place, Cook says.

‘I don’t think you can start too early,’ he says of having a transfer plan, which he says should be the result of an in-depth conversation between founders and the next generation of proprietors.  ‘We would advise, for the high-net-worth individual, that it’s an important thing, because generational planning can take quite a long time.’

One of the main challenges HNWs and advisers face in succession planning is the sheer difference in attitudes between the old and the young, with the latter not having quite the loyalty the former might have to their respective trusted advisers. ‘The younger generation are a little bit more transactional,’ Cook notes, ‘they are a little more independent-thinking and they want information available at their fingertips at any place, any time and through any kind of medium’.

This is because client knowledge is becoming increasingly crucial, he stresses, adding that there is a case now more than ever for an understanding of how the family structures, legal setting, wishes, future priorities and culture of each HNW client will influence their style of intergenerational transfer. ‘Service demands are changing – it’s very important that financial centres and the private wealth advisers in them aren’t complacent,’ Cook warns. ‘You can become out of date, or even irrelevant.’

The report also urges for greater innovation in the private wealth space, where Jersey has been offering services as an IFC with ‘a multichannel approach’ – using the expertise of more than 13,300 ‘highly-skilled’ and experienced professionals. This new outlook to client service is part of a greater ‘lateral’ discussion around wealth that is going on globally, Cook concludes. ‘”With great wealth comes great responsibility” is a much more prevalent attitude now.’

Private equity in India is coming of age | McKinsey

For private equity in India, more capital is becoming available, competition is increasing, and lessons from past excess and inexperience are guiding better performance. Now firms are reevaluating their strategies and internal capabilities.

16 November 2018

Mauritius: Offshore on the radar

The government wants to double the size of the financial sector within the next 12 years, but to do that it needs to find new growth strategies and respond to international pressure on jurisdictions that help companies avoid paying corporation tax

06 November 2018

First ‘Panama Papers’ Trailer Exposes Offshore Cash Scandal

Leaked by an anonymous source to journalists in 2015, The Panama Papers were an explosive collection of 11.5 million documents, exposing the use of secretive offshore companies to enable widespread tax evasion and money laundering. Largely viewed as the biggest global corruption scandal in history, the release of the Papers had wide-reaching implications, incriminating 12 current or former world leaders, 128 politicians or public officials, and various celebrities and public figures (among others). In his expansive documentary, director Alex Winter examines how this story reshaped our understanding of corruption amidst the highest forms of government, and the systemic problem of global inequality.


05 November 2018

White-Collar Black-Money Secrets

Be it an HNI or a Corporate - Tax Havens have enabled creative ways to hide illegal wealth & income and it is happening in plain sight!

Shell companies are opaque walls to hide ill-gotten money when corrupt politicians invest in them. Every time corrupt politician jets off to London, guess what he/ she is up to?

How ill-gotten wealth achieves a multiplier effect with Roundtripping

29 October 2018

FSC Mauritius - Press Release : Appointment of Ms Francesca Omobola Harte as Director of Enforcement

The Financial Services Commission, Mauritius (FSC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Francesca Omobola Harte as Director of Enforcement.

28 October 2018

Joint FSC and EDB Communiqué: Mauritius IFC remains a committed development partner for Africa

The IMF has published a working paper entitled “The Cost and Benefits of Tax Treaties with Investment Hubs – Findings from Sub-Saharan Africa” on the 24th of October 2018.
  • The working paper, which does not reflect the views of the IMF, examines the cost and benefits of concluding Double Tax Treaties with investment hubs, with a focus on the tax treaty policies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In their findings, the authors suggest that African countries are likely to face a substantial reduction in tax revenue when signing tax agreements with investment hubs like Mauritius.
The Financial Services Commission and the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, deem that the findings of the paper are purportedly misleading and biased.

24 October 2018

The Cost and Benefits of Tax Treaties with Investment Hubs: Findings from Sub-Saharan Africa

This paper investigates the costs and benefits of concluding double tax treaties with investment hubs. Based on a sample of 41 African economies from 1985–2015, the results suggest that signing treaties with investment hubs is not associated with additional investments; yet, these treaties tend to come with nonnegligible revenue losses. Building on a theoretical model, the paper investigates the role of treaty shopping in driving nominal investment flows and provides indirect evidence for its importance in the sample

23 October 2018

English High Court Ordered Inquiry Into Damages Caused by the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund Against Quantum Global and the Group’s Founder

Quantum Global Group (the “Group”) announced today that the English High Court ordered an inquiry to be commenced into the damage caused by the Fundo Soberano de Angola (“FSDEA”) following the wrongful imposition of a Worldwide Freezing Order (the “WFO”) obtained by the FSDEA against the Group.

The WFO, which was wrongfully imposed on the Group for four months from April to August 2018, caused significant losses to the Group and its affiliated companies. This has also greatly impacted the Group’s ability to fund its operations and pay its employees.

The start of the damages’ inquiry follows the judgment by the English High Court in August 2018 that the FSDEA had materially misled the Court in eight critical areas when it applied for and obtained the WFO in April. The FSDEA was ordered by the Court to pay the Group’s legal costs for the English Court proceedings.

Following the English Court’s August judgment, the Angolan authorities wrongfully imprisoned the Group’s Chairman and Founder, Mr Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, on September 24 of this year pending an investigation into a real estate transaction that was previously reported and audited by respected international accounting firms. An assessment made by Mr Bastos’s legal counsel of the evidence and grounds of the preventive detention order shows that they are wrong and unfounded. The detention has been deemed completely unnecessary considering that Mr Bastos came to Angola on his own volition and had been fully cooperating with the authorities to clear his name since May when both of his passports were illegally seized in violation of Angolan Law. To date, no charges have been filed against Mr Bastos.

Mr. Bastos continues to be unnecessary held in a prison for violent offenders, which has been the subject of criticism in recent years by many international human rights organizations, including by Amnesty International, and so far, the appeals launched to release Mr Bastos based on Angolan laws and the Country’s constitution have fallen on deaf ears. The unlawful detention of Mr Bastos, a Swiss and Angolan dual national, raises serious questions with regards to the conduct of the authorities and the treatment of international investors and foreign nationals in Angola. Quantum Global calls on the Angolan Government and its Courts to uphold the rule of law and guarantee a fair hearing and due process.

Furthermore, Quantum Global continues to be dismayed by the actions and conduct of the Mauritian authorities in maintaining orders freezing Quantum Global bank accounts and suspending operating licenses. Despite repeated attempts in the last six months, the affidavit relied upon by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Mauritius against Quantum Global is still being withheld from the Group. Reports in the Mauritian press indicate that there have been multiple approaches and visits by the Angolan authorities to Mauritius before the orders were granted and in the recent months thereafter, and serious questions have been raised with regards to the actions of the Mauritius authorities.

Offering an independent legal opinion on the matter in May, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven Kt QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales, said that the continued deprivation of salaries from employees “is likely to be arbitrary and a significant breach of international human rights law. Moreover, we consider that the lack of disclosure and the associated lack of any meaningful opportunity to make representations against the deprivation of property renders the deprivation disproportionate.”

By intervening in a contractual dispute between Quantum Global and its client, the FSDEA, the Mauritius authorities’ actions represents a continued significant breach of due process. Similar to its call in Angola, the Group calls upon the Mauritius authorities to uphold their independence and guarantee a fair hearing and due process and not take actions that are detrimental to upholding the rights of investors.

Quantum Global has repeatedly stated its desire for a negotiated solution with the FSDEA that otherwise will have to be settled through a number of lengthy arbitration proceedings. The Group reiterated its call for the FSDEA to advance to a good faith solution, in accordance with international commercial law, to maintain the value of the portfolio and secure the jobs created in Angolan industries including ports, forestry, agriculture and real estate.

19 October 2018

Bank ordered to disclose suspicious activity reports to customer

Lonsdale v National Westminster Bank [2018] EWHC 1843 (QB) (18 July 2018) 
A bank was ordered to disclose, to a customer, suspicious activity reports (SARs) that the bank had sent to the National Crime Agency (NCA) at the time of freezing the customer’s bank accounts. The bank’s arguments concerning confidentiality, tipping-off and prejudicing an investigation were unsuccessful. The court’s observations on the interplay between the SARs regime and the law on data protection, defamation and breach of contract will be of interest to all banks.

FSC Press Release – Participation of Mauritius delegation at the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices

The Mauritius regimes on the agenda were actively discussed and debated at the Forum. Further to the deliberations, the delegation is confident the Forum has been provided with all justifications and information that will help the OECD's BEPS Inclusive Framework to reach a favorable conclusion about the said Mauritius regimes. The OECD's BEPS Inclusive Framework monitors the different works undertaken to implement the BEPS minimum standards.

18 October 2018

From the crypto-goldrush to new compliance concerns: offshore firms weather the storm

Ongoing regulatory scrutiny across the offshore world continues to hang heavy - but law firms are tapping into new opportunities

African Governments Are Paying for the World Bank’s Mauritius Miracle

Ghost offices on the small island provide legal but questionable means of siphoning tax dollars away from poor countries and into the pockets of the global elite.