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FATF: Mauritius Can Now Reposition Itself As A Respectable Financial Sector, Says Minister Seeruttun

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With the exit of Mauritius from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Grey List, the country can now reposition itself as a respectable financial sector which is conducive for business and investment, said the Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, today, at a press conference held at the seat of the Ministry in Ebène.

He expressed satisfaction that the FATF global community has acknowledged the amount of work undertaken by the Mauritian authorities and have confirmed the independence and the credibility of our institutions. The huge work was accomplished, he recalled, by all the local institutions namely the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Bank of Mauritius, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, the Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance, the Attorney General’s Office, the Financial Services Commission, the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the private sector.

He highlighted that Government has continuously manifested its unflinching commitment to prioritise and fully implement the FATF Action Plan whilst, at the same time, ensuring the sustainability and effectiveness of the measures undertaken. He further reiterated Government’s strong political commitment to sustain the AML/CFT reforms and the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing.

Minister Seeruttun gave an overview of the different steps taken by Mauritius to exit FATF’s Grey List. He recalled that in February 2020, the FATF grey-listed Mauritius and highlighted shortcomings in its financial regulation ecosystem. However, in a record 18 months’ time, Mauritius was delisted yesterday.

He indicated that Mauritius was placed on FATF’s Grey List as a result of strategic deficiencies identified by the FATF in its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system. In order to exit that list, Mauritius was called upon by the FATF to implement an Action Plan. From February 2020 till June 2021, Mauritius has continued to improve and consolidate its AML/CFT system, he said.

He underlined that since 2018, several committees have been set up, namely the Interministerial Committee chaired by the Prime Minister as well as sub-committees which focused on each deficiency and worked to implement the FATF Action Plan. Some 113 working sessions and sensitisation workshops were conducted since February 2020 as at date, several legislations were amended, and 2,373 officers followed training sessions, he said. Furthermore, a Technical Assessment Coordinating Committee was set up with the support of the European Union.

Mahen Kumar Seeruttun

Mauritius, he stated, has also worked closely with the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and also benefited from the technical assistance from the latter, the European Union (EU) through the EU AML/CFT Global Facility, the German Agency for International Cooperation, United Kingdom, France, International Monetary Fund, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Bank, and international organisations in this process.

Minister Seeruttun added that reports had to be submitted regularly namely in July and November 2020 and in April 2021. Furthermore, from 13 to 15 September 2021, assessors from FATF were in Mauritius to meet with the heads of the concerned institutions and assess the progress made by the country.

Government has adopted measures to strengthening the effectiveness of its AML/CFT system through effective laws and institutions. At the end of this process, the FATF’s assessors have concluded that the country has substantially completed its Action Plan ahead of time, he stated.

He recalled that following the inspection, a Plenary session was held from 19 to 21 October 2021, whereby it was announced that Mauritius was removed from the FATF Grey List. The removal of Mauritius from the Grey List bears testimony to the host of bold measures undertaken by Mauritius, in honoring and adhering to the highest international standards in combating AML/CFT matters, he said.

In addition, Mr Seeruttun pointed out that the European Commission will now review available information from FATF and if confirmed, Mauritius will be de-listed from the Black List through the adoption of a delegated act.

Speaking about the delisting, he highlighted that it demonstrates the recognition of the international community on efforts of Mauritius to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and financial system. It is also an acknowledgement by the FATF global community that the relevant institutions are independent and effective in their tasks to minimise risks of money laundering and financing of terrorism, and black money entering the country, he added.

He further pointed out that the country was scheduled to exit the list some time in 2022. However, the international community indicated that it is the first time that a country is exiting this grey list well ahead of the scheduled deadline. This indicates that the Mauritian authorities, as well as the public and private sector have been engaged to reinforce the AML/CFT system and Mauritius can serve as an example in the region to support other countries in engagement towards AML/CFT, he concluded.

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