Mauritius: Law of Offshore
Financial Services Act 2007
N.B The Financial Services Development Act 2001 was repealed when the Financial Services Act 2007 came into operation.
The Act (prior to updating) provided for the establishment and management of a Financial Services Commission to regulate the non-bank financial services, the establishment of a Financial Services Consultative Council, serving as a forum for discussions of the innovative developments and international trends in the field of financial services and of a distinct and separate Financial Services Promotion Agency for the promotion of the development of the financial services industry in Mauritius; and to provide for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.
The Commission is given a suitably wide range of powers, including the ability to close the Stock Exchange in various circumstances.
Financial (non-banking) organisations licensed by the Commission must keep in relation to his business activities in the financial services sector, 'a full and true written record, whether electronic or otherwise, in the English or French language of every transaction he makes.' The records must be retained for at least seven years.
The Commission established compensation funds 'for the purposes of compensating investors and other persons who suffer or have suffered financial losses as a result of the inability or eventual inability by a corporation licensed under the relevant Acts to satisfy claims arising from any civil liability incurred by it in connection with services provided, or as a result of fraud or defalcation by the corporation or any of its employees or officers, or as a result of the insolvency of such corporation.'
The Act establishes two categories of 'Qualified global businesses' which amount to offshore companies, although there are multiple restrictions and conditions, and licenses must be obtained from the Commission. 'Management licenses' will be issued to companies involved in the provision of services to 'qualified global businesses'.
The Act repealed the following existing laws:
- The Mauritius Offshore Business Activities Act 1992;
- The Mauritius Offshore Business Activities (Fees) Regulations 1992;
- The Offshore Insurance Regulations 1992; and
- The Mauritius Offshore Business Activities (Companies) Regulations 1995.
It also contains modifications to other existing laws, including the Banking Act. Certificates and licences issued under previous laws are in most cases 'grandfathered' into the new regime. Relevant laws include:
- The Insurance Act 1987;
- The Protected Cell Companies Act 1999;
- The Securities (Central Depository, Clearing and Settlement) Act 1996;
- The Stock Exchange Act 1988;
- The Trusts Act 2001;
- The Unit Trust Act 1989.
The Act defines financial services or financial business activities (which will therefore be supervised by the FSC) to include:
- Asset management;
- Collective investment schemes;
- Custodial services;
- Factoring business;
- Financial service providers and intermediaries;
- Investment advisory services;
- Leasing business;
- Mortgage finance;
- Retirement benefits schemes; and
- Services provided by a qualified trustee under the Trusts Act 2001.
Activities falling under the rules relating to 'Qualified global businesses' (ie which can have what used to amount to 'offshore' status) include:
- Aircraft financing and leasing;
- Assets management;
- Consultancy services;
- Employment services;
- Financial services;
- Funds management;
- Information and communication technology services;
- Licensing and franchising;
- Logistics and or marketing;
- Operational headquarters;
- Pension funds;
- Shipping and ship management; and