22 June 2017

Mauritius: Minister Sesungkur Chairs Meeting On OECD Multilateral Convention On Tax Treaty

The Minister of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms, Mr Dharmendar Sesungkur, chaired yesterday at Sicom Tower in Ebène, a meeting on the signature of the OECD Multilateral Convention on Tax Treaty relating to BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Measures. 

Several private sector global business operators participated in the discussions. The aim was to exchange information, chart the way forward and see how to better protect the interests of not only the local financial services sector but that of Mauritius also.

In a statement following the meeting, Minister Sesungkur recalled  that the global business and the financial services sector represent a big chunk of Mauritius’ economic activity and contribute significantly by employing, directly or indirectly, around 20 000 professionals. The financial services sector contributes much in wealth creation and ensures the economic progress of Mauritius in terms of harnessing on investments, he said.

According to the Minister, there are a number of rules and regulations that are soon to enter into force on the international level and that includes the Multilateral Instrument being implemented by the OECD which will be impacting on our financial services sector as well as the EU’s BEPS. Hence, the importance of exchanging information with stakeholders of the financial services sector to address these challenges in the coming months so as to ensure the development of the sector, he pointed out.

Government, said the Minister, proposes to analyse the suggestions put forward by the private sector global business operators and see how Mauritius’ proposal to the OECD can be enhanced to better safeguard  the country’s interest and that of the financial services sector.

Multilateral Convention

On 7 June 2017, over 70 Ministers and other high-level representatives participated in the signature ceremony of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. Signatories include jurisdictions from all continents and all levels of development.

Mauritius has expressed the intent to sign the Convention and other jurisdictions are also actively working towards signature.

The innovative multilateral convention provides for the swift implementation of a series of tax treaty measures to update the existing network of bilateral tax treaties and reduce opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises. It also offers the tools to implement mandatory binding arbitration, tackle hybrid mismatches, and stop artificial avoidance of “permanent establishment” status in countries. The convention is in line with the strategy to help restore citizens’ trust in the fairness and transparency of global governance systems and the legitimacy of the processes underpinning global integration.

19 June 2017

Appeal court confirms 'tiger charity' assets are excluded from Bray divorce settlement

The England and Wales Court of Appeal has rejected Li Quan's claim to include the assets of the Chinese Tigers South African Trust in her financial remedy case against former husband Stuart Bray. The decision is a relief to charities and families with trusts, protecting their funds against unprecedented types of legal attack.

16 June 2017

Island states targeted in great power competition

Small island nations lacking in exploitable natural resources and industrial capacity often develop into financial hubs, tax havens or other offshore capital services to supplement national income derived mainly from tourism to their palm-dotted beaches and lagoons.

Mauritius: Horse Racing and the Black Economy

The black economy must have discovered numerous ropes with which to manipulate the system to get into undeserved wealth. Ordinary citizens may not see them. They may however gauge who the actors perpetrating unlawful activities would really be. Why do businessmen pay huge amounts to politicians? Is this the end of the matter? Or do they help keep the system perverted so they cannot be impugned when engaging in all sorts of criminal activities? This is not a moral issue. It is about a quick-get-rich society inviting all to indulge in crimes of all sorts to get rich quickly.

14 June 2017

Global business : s’affirmer comme une juridiction de substance

Les nouvelles réglementations et le contexte international forcent les places financières à se réinventer. La juridiction mauricienne n’est pas épargnée par la vague.

13 June 2017

Mauritius tweaks rules for global business licensees

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), offshore funds and other entities that invest in India via the Mauritius route will now have to satisfy any two of the secondary (or additional) substance conditions instead of just one to prove they have adequate commercial substance in Mauritius and are not just shell companies or post-box entities

12 June 2017

Fundamental Reform in Business Facilitation and Expansion of Economic Horizons in Mauritius

The Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions Act), 2017, enacted on 16 May 2017, aims to give new impetus to investment by creating a more favourable environment to doing business in Mauritius. It seeks to do away with regulatory and administrative constraints (whether at the outset or on an ongoing basis), and promotes a modern and digital business environment by bringing significant amendments and innovations to 26 pieces of legislation. Below is an overview of those legal changes that we deem notable.

09 June 2017

Mauritius Times: A Disaster in Waiting

The Betamax case involving a breach of contract by the government appears to have now been determined. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which was in charge of deciding the case between Betamax, a local company, and the State Trading Corporation (STC), a state enterprise involved in importing several commodities including petroleum products, gave its decision on 6th June in favour of Betamax. Accordingly, the STC would have to pay damages amounting to between $115-125 million (Rs 4.1-4.5 billion) to Betamax for unjustified breach of contract.

The ruling of the SIAC, protected by confidentiality provisions, will not be available for public consultation, and it is not known whether it has gone beyond the issue of breach of contract to examine the terms and conditions thereof. It may be recalled that one of the first dossiers the government issuing from the general election of December 2014 took up after assuming power was the contract given out to Betamax by the STC under the preceding government in 2009. It tried at first to negotiate Betamax out of the country’s petroleum transportation contract in January 2015, on the ground that the contract had been awarded unlawfully thanks to a colourable device consisting of amending public procurement laws and singling it out for privileged contract allocation.

Mauritius Times

08 June 2017

Multilateral Instrument - the new super treaty

Just as the One Ring was the most powerful artefact ever created in the Middle-earth, the Multilateral Instrument (MLI) will undoubtedly be one of the most powerful tax treaties ever signed. Already labelled as the "turning point in tax treaty history", the MLI is sure to have a profound impact on the existing tax treaty relationships.

07 June 2017

Mauritius commits to sign the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting by 30 June 2017

Mauritius, as a fully collaborative and responsible International Financial Centre (IFC) of substance, has always supported the implementation of best practices as set by leading globally recognised institutions.

To this end, in June 2015, Mauritius signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, jointly developed by the Council of Europe and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Mauritius is equally a member of the Early Adopters Group committed to the early implementation of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) on the automatic exchange of financial account information.

The country is the first in Africa to have signed up to the Intergovernmental Agreement with the United States for the implementation of the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

To further support its pledge as a cooperative IFC, Mauritius has actively participated in the Ad-Hoc Group set up by the OECD to work on the drafting of the Multilateral Instrument as recommended under Action 15 of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Report. More recently, the country equally joined the Inclusive Framework to implement the BEPS Recommendations and the new initiative on exchange of Beneficial Ownership information.

In the same vein, Mauritius wishes to reiterate its firm intention to sign the “Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting”. Mauritius commits to sign the Multilateral Convention by the 30th of June 2017, thus demonstrating its dedication to curb base erosion and fight international tax avoidance.

For those Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements that will not be covered by the Multilateral Convention, discussions will be held on a bilateral basis with the concerned countries to ensure our compliance with the BEPS recommendations while safeguarding the legitimate interest of Mauritius.

As a trusted IFC of substance, Mauritius remains committed to always adopt and adhere to internationally accepted norms and standards.

GMEX Group places Mauritius IFC at heart of global expansion plan

GMEX Group, a global provider of multi-asset exchange trading, post trade business solutions and technology today announced the opening of its regional headquarters in the Mauritius International Financial Centre (IFC). Additionally, its newly launched initiative with partners, FinComEco, the integrated Financial & Commodities Ecosystem, providing technology, services, financing, capacity building and enablement solutions across multiple regions in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond with a focus on the agricultural sector, will also establish its global headquarters in Mauritius.

Both companies, GMEX Holdings Ltd and FinComEco, have obtained regulatory approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to operate as global business companies. The plan over the coming months, subject to satisfying requisite criteria and additional regulatory approvals, is to extend this to be a global headquarters administration license to benefit from significant advantages the country offers as a globally trusted IFC of substance.

GMEX Holdings Limited will provide business and technical services under the GMEX Services banner with global support for GMEX Group entities and the growing list of international partners, stake-holders and technology vendors in the GMEX ecosystem. GMEX Group will also manage its expanding portfolio of market infrastructure and FinTech investments from Mauritius under the GMEX Investments banner.

This move is supported by the Financial Services Promotion Agency (FSPA), which operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and is mandated to develop and promote Mauritius as an International Financial Centre (IFC) of excellence.

Hirander Misra, CEO of GMEX Group & Deputy Chairman of FinComEco commented, “The rapid development of Mauritius as an International Financial Centre and FinTech hub coupled with a skilled multilingual labour pool is making it very attractive for global business and technology focused companies, like us, to establish a major presence. The FSPA, as a government agency, has been instrumental in supporting our establishment in the Mauritius IFC.

Harvesh Seegoolam, Chief Executive of the FSPA, “As a sophisticated and trusted IFC, Mauritius is open to global companies looking at establishing their operations locally to target emerging markets. At the level of the FSPA, our focus is on promoting and attracting activities which are substance based, meet and adhere to international standards and lead to high value job creation for our professionals. In this regard, we are pleased to welcome the GMEX and FinComEco projects in the Mauritius IFC.

Rt. Honourable Mark Simmonds, former U.K. Minister of The Foreign & Commonwealth office for Africa and Chairman of FinComEco commented, “Mauritius has developed into an excellent international financial centre in which to base a multi jurisdictional African investment platform such as FinComEco.” Adding, “Along with our partners, we look forward to facilitating the full agricultural value chain improving lives, creating jobs and alleviating poverty.

Mauritius has a strong regulatory framework and is recognized as having implemented the highest internationally agreed standards. The country is one of the first jurisdictions to be included in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) White List. A strategically important location for GMEX Group and FinComEco, Mauritius is conveniently located and connected for the various ventures currently being undertaken not only across the African continent but also in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

In addition to its ecosystem and proven track record in global investments, the Mauritius IFC has a number of bilateral treaties for double taxation and investment protection in place across Africa and the Rest of the World; and is currently growing to include firms delivering a range of bespoke financial products for Africa. Mauritius is a member of a number of regional and global organisations including Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), and the African Union (AU). As a reputable IFC, the country also adheres to best norms as set by organisations like IOSCO, IAIS, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the IFSB.

02 June 2017

Anil Gujadhur - The BAI Affair: Mauritians need to know how and what went wrong

Regulators are not alone to ensure safe and sound management of finance companies in the ‘public interest’ however. There’s also the finance company’s board, its specialised board committees such as the Corporate Governance Committee, Credit/Investment Committee, the Audit Committee, the Risk Management Committee, Internal Audit as well as External Audit. All are accountable and expected to apply the brakes when necessary. Then, the question arises as to why, despite a plethora of such controls, a finance group like the BAI has ended up with such a huge financing gap…

The BAI mess and consequent turmoil will not be put to rest any time soon. It’s the taxpayer who will have to pay the price for it to the tune of several billions of rupees. The taxpayer has the right to know how it all came about, whether there had indeed been failures at the level of the regulatory bodies, company boards and auditors – internal and external – and also political interference to sap the functioning of the public bodies, which might have allowed mischief to happen for a long number of years…

Mauritius Times

01 June 2017

SGG Group announces successful completion of the Cim Global Business acquisition

SGG Group is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed today the acquisition of Cim Global Business, a leading Mauritian-based corporate, trust and fund administrator with offices in South Africa and Singapore.
As previously announced, through this strategic acquisition, SGG Group will establish a strong presence in the attractive African and South-East Asian markets which have experienced significant growth.
Together with Cim Global Business, SGG Group forms a leading investor services platform with over 800 staff and state of the art technology.
375 of the Group employees are dedicated to servicing funds.  SGG Group’s fund manager clients benefit from the scale of the business and resulting efficiencies and investment in the highest quality staff and top tier funds software platforms.
To ensure the seamless integration of Cim Global Business, the company will be rebranded as part of SGG, allowing the combined group to pursue its business development strategy by expanding its range of services and geographies. The rebranding process will be completed within a period of 6 months.
Graham Sheward, Managing Director of Cim Global Business, said "We are pleased to be joining forces with such a renowned international group. We look forward to bringing our expertise and platforms together with the SGG Group and to combining our existing range of services, outstanding teams and geographical footprint. In partnership with SGG, Cim Global Business will be able to expand its servicing capabilities, allowing us to better serve our growing base of clients and further develop our focus on fund administration and servicing corporates and investors in the exciting African and Asian markets.
Serge Krancenblum, SGG’s Group CEO continued, "We are very excited to find in Cim Global Business a team of professionals that are highly praised by their clients and the market for their level of expertise across a broad range of services. We add to our group impressive platforms in Mauritius, Singapore and South Africa that will further strengthen our servicing capacities and reinforce the focus on fund administration. Cim Global Business management team share our growth ambitions and are equally passionate about supporting the needs of our clients."

31 May 2017

SS&C Advent: Preparing for MiFID II - A Guide for Investment Managers

The updated Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and accompanying regulation (MiFIR) create a huge and complex rulebook that will transform the way financial markets operate and how trading activity is conducted in the European Union. While designed more for the sell side than buy side, its scope means any investment manager that has dealings with European clients, funds or even assets will be impacted to some extent, and will need to adopt a MiFID II program.

A White Paper and video are now available from SS&C Advent on Preparing for MiFID II.

30 May 2017

Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort reveals its Crystal Marquee for MICE and wedding sectors

Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort has unveiled Crystal, a unique meeting space in the south of the island. This new concept opens opportunities for the resort in the events and MICE sector, from meetings and conferences to exceptional gala dinners and weddings.

Crystal is a fully air-conditioned transparent marquee. It measures 33 x 17.5 meters, can seat up to 250 people in banquet style and sits on a rooftop area of the hotel giving a wonderful view of the Bel Ombre coast.

The resort setting is ideal for events: 181 sea-facing rooms offer a breathtaking beachfront location alongside the turquoise lagoons of the Indian Ocean. Nestled in the nature reserve of Bel Ombre, the property is only 45 minutes from the airport,

A permanent structure, Crystal can be adapted for many needs. It can be used as a classic conference venue with pitch-dark option, or semi-transparent with ocean views, both incorporating the latest audio-visual technology.

Crystal is unique in Mauritius and repositions the Outrigger as a full-on MICE destination for events, incentive meetings, weddings and banquets,” says Cyrille Carmona, deputy general manager of the resort. “With Crystal, the sky is the now the limit.

The Outrigger, highly acclaimed for its dining, now has five food and beverage venues which can deliver MICE events for up to 250 covers.

Carmona says the key MICE points for the Outrigger are its five food and beverage outlets, including Crystal; all the resort’s rooms and suites are sea facing with a private terrace and balcony; there are spacious beachfront, garden and poolside venues for events; customized menus for beach parties and weddings, all the way up to wine and gala dinners; advanced audio-visual services; technical and secretarial services for businesses; lighting and ambience support; live entertainment, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort has a dedicated MICE team that tailors proposals and accompanies groups during their events. This team has created a range of original MICE services including team-building activities, nature retreats, personalized wellness experiences, themed gala dinners and private outdoor events.

With the opening of Crystal at the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, I believe we now have a total package — a very compelling proposition for MICE event organizers worldwide,” says Carmona.

FSC Mauritius issues Communiqué - Online Submission Platform

The Financial Services Commission, Mauritius (“FSC Mauritius”) launched its Online Submissions Platform (OSP) on 01 December 2016. The OSP is the interactive platform allowing Management Companies to submit their applications for a licence online, and to upload the relevant supporting documents.

The number of applications received by FSC Mauritius through the OSP as at date aggregates to 353 Global Business Companies.

The aim of the OSP is to provide a more conducive regulatory environment to establish and conduct operations.

The FSC Mauritius informs its stakeholders that as from 01 August 2017, all applications for Global Business Licences should be made through the OSP platform.

Accordingly, no applications for Global Business Licences submitted in hard copies would be entertained by the FSC Mauritius thereafter.

Financial Services Commission, Mauritius
30 May 2017

29 May 2017

European Commission welcomes adoption of new rules to block tax avoidance

The agreed rules will stop companies from escaping tax by exploiting the mismatches between Member States' and non-EU countries' tax systems ("hybrid mismatches"). Today's agreement completes the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) which ensures that binding and robust anti-abuse measures are applied throughout the Single Market.

"Our campaign for fairer taxation in Europe continues to reap results. Today's agreement is further proof of what the EU can achieve when we work together against common challenges. It is another victory for fair taxation and another blow against those companies that try to escape paying their fair share," said Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.

Today's agreement will ensure that companies cannot avoid taxation by abusing mismatches between countries' tax treatment of certain income or entities, even if the mismatches involve third countries. The new rules, which were endorsed by EU ministers in February and subsequently by the European Parliament, will come into force on 1 January 2020, with a longer phasing-in period of 2022 for one provision (Art. 9a).

They build on the solid anti-avoidance safeguards initiated by the Juncker Commission and agreed at EU level. In addition to the ambitious Anti Tax Avoidance Directive, agreed in 2016, a host of new tax transparency rules have been adopted to ensure fairer and more open taxation throughout Europe.

Since January 2017, Member States have been obliged to automatically exchange information on financial accounts, as an important step against offshore tax evasion. From July this year, similar transparency rules will apply for tax rulings, while multinationals will have to provide country-by-country reports to tax authorities by the end of the year. The Council and the European Parliament are currently negotiating other important proposals to prevent tax abuse, including public country-by-country reporting, stronger Anti-Money Laundering provisions and tighter good governance rules for EU funds. A number of other substantial corporate tax reforms have also been proposed, notably the re-launch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) in October 2016. Member States are also working on a common EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, to tackle third countries that refuse to adhere to tax good governance standards. The list should be ready by the end of the year.

In the coming weeks, the Commission will bring forward another new transparency initiative, with a proposal for intermediaries to report cross-border tax planning schemes.

OECD releases peer review document for assessment of the BEPS Action 6 minimum standard

Today the OECD released the key document, approved by the Inclusive Framework on BEPS, which will form the basis of the peer review of the Action 6 minimum standard on preventing the granting of treaty benefits in inappropriate circumstances.

The Action 6 minimum standard is one of the four BEPS minimum standards. Each of the four BEPS minimum standards is subject to peer review in order to ensure timely and accurate implementation and thus safeguard the level playing field. All members of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS commit to implementing the minimum standards and participating in the peer reviews.

The document released today forms the basis on which the peer review process will be undertaken. The document includes the Terms of Reference which sets out the criteria for assessing the implementation of the Action 6 minimum standard, and the Methodology which sets out the procedural mechanism by which the review will be conducted.

26 May 2017

Mrinal Roy: Crisis management, BAI Saga and India - Calling a Spade a Spade

It is obvious that India will never turn down a call for a helping hand from Mauritius. While finding a solution to end the hardships and anguish of the victims of BAI remains a priority, this unprecedented initiative of seeking help from India to resolve domestic problems of our own making raises a series of questions of principles… India cannot be the panacea for our blunders. By doing so the government is exposing its inability to manage the affairs of the country competently…

The recent flagrant lapses in respect of licences granted to Alvaro Sobrinho shows that the regulatory bodies have not yet learnt the lessons of the BAI debacle. Politicians must also learn to stay clear of political meddling in the strict application of rules and regulations by regulatory bodies. Going forward, urgent steps must also be taken to inculcate a culture of supervisory rigour among regulators and strict compliance with rules and regulations among operators to prevent any risk of crisis in our financial services sector. It is only then that we will prevent hiccups in the future and truly establish the standing and repute of Mauritius as a clean and vibrant financial services centre.

Mauritius Times