Mauritius: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes
IIn May 2000 Mauritius wrote a 'commitment letter' to the OECD in order to avoid inclusion on the OECD's list of jurisdictions which offer 'unfair' tax competition. Partly as a result of this commitment, the Government passed a range of replacement legislation in 2001 including the Financial Services Development Act 2001, which set up a Financial Services Commission. Most existing offshore legislation has been 'grandfathered' into the new regime.
In August 2007, the Mauritian National Assembly adopted new financial services legislation, establishing the independence of the Financial Services Commission and liberalizing the international 'global business company' regime.
The bill became the Financial Services Act 2007 and provides a common framework for licensing and supervision of all financial services other than banking and for the global business sector. The new law specifically provides for the independence of the Financial Services Commission as a regulatory body.
The Financial Services Act redefines the concept of global business. Under the new provisions, all resident companies conducting business outside Mauritius may opt for an alternative legal regime. The former restrictions on activities conducted by category 1 global business companies have been removed.
The Act also provides for the designation of industry associations in all financial services sectors as self-regulatory organisations. Two other bills were also approved by the assembly at this time; The Securities (Amendment) Bill and the Insurance (Amendment) Bill.
The Securities (Amendment) Bill extends the scope of “securities” and “exchanges”, thus enabling the Commission to approve the trading of a wider range of instruments and license Commodity and other exchanges.
The Insurance (Amendment) Bill removes certain administrative obligations on branches of foreign insurers operating in Mauritius and provides for greater flexibility in exceptional circumstances.
The Financial Services Act 2007, the Securities Act 2005 and the Insurance Act 2005 came into force on 28 September 2007.