(Ecofin Agency) - Following the adoption of new measures, the European Union added Mauritius to its blacklist on money laundering and terrorist financing. In a press release issued on Tuesday 2 June, the office of the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, expressed its indignation at seeing the archipelago appear on the European Union's (EU) blacklist, which identifies third countries whose anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing systems are strategically deficient.
The country believes that “it is disproportionate to penalize our country so harshly based on unproven risks.” According to the related statement, “Mauritius was not allowed to provide any explanation or make any representation to the Commission before its inclusion on the list.”
“The Commission merely replicated the findings of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) without considering the intrinsic and fundamental differences between countries that form part of the FATF blacklist as compared to other countries like Mauritius, that are on the monitoring list,” the Mauritian authorities argue.
Citing the country's advantages for not being on the FATF watch list, the government points out that “the Mauritius International Financial Centre is internationally recognized as a jurisdiction of choice and substance. It was established based on a strong legal framework supported by an independent Judiciary.” Also, “Mauritius has always adhered to international standards of good governance, transparency, and taxation.”
As a reminder, the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently confirmed that Mauritius' tax systems meet the required criteria.
According to the new measures presented by the EU Commission on 7 May to strengthen the framework of the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing strategy, third countries on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list are in principle also on the EU list. Consequently, 12 countries, including Mauritius, have been added to the list.
The Mauritian authorities have announced that they have initiated a dialogue with the EU to remove the country from the list. If negotiations do not succeed, Mauritius will be subject from 1 October to a series of restrictive measures that will have an impact on the financial system and financial transactions with the EU.