Head of Legal and Compliance in an Offshore Management Company and also a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS), Tariq Caramtali states that Mauritius should be honored to be amongst the few countries which are compliant with all the 40 recommendations of the FATF. “This is definitely a boost to the financial services sector and a comfort to Investors. Mauritius has, through endless initiatives, demonstrated its commitment to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation. In this respect, Mauritius has ratified and acceded to numerous international conventions, protocols, and treaties to express its commitment towards complying with the FATF Recommendations. And today, those initiatives have proved rewarding. International affiliates and banking institutions worldwide would be more at ease to facilitate the flow of funds to and from Mauritius, without the need to undergo enhanced due diligence measures on our country.”
He believes that Mauritius has a robust legal framework to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and proliferation with a view to adhering to the FATF Recommendations. “It was hectic for Mauritius during the last couple of years and the only recommendation which failed the compliance test recently was Recommendation 15 ‘New Technologies’. Now, Recommendation 15 has been upgraded to “Largely Compliant” on the basis of the progress made by Mauritius in addressing the underlying deficiencies.”
The Mauritius Financial Services Commission, he explains, as the designated Regulator and Supervisor for virtual asset service providers and issuers of initial token offerings, worked with the Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance and other stakeholders to come up with the Virtual Assets and Initial Token Offerings (“VAITOS”) Act, which is the regulatory framework to strengthen the oversight and help improve transparency of virtual asset transactions.
He adds that other actions taken by the FSC, include: -
Issuance of Rules under the VAITOS on Capital and Other Financial Requirements, Client Disclosure, Custody of Client Assets, Cybersecurity, Publication of Advertisements, Risk Management, Statutory Returns and Travel Rule;
Issuance of the AML/CFT Guidance Notes for Virtual Asset Service Providers & Issuers of Initial Token Offerings; and
Enforcement actions on those who were in non-conformity with the VAITOS Act.
Speaking about the existing risks when it comes money laundering and terrorist financing as well as corruption, the Compliance Expert utters that they are always there. “Risks will always exist, but we as the industry experts should be well versed as to how to mitigate those risks. It is to be recognized that Mauritius; even for other renown Jurisdictions, has strengths and weaknesses in its frameworks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation, as well as corruption. This is why the frameworks, and its functionality should periodically be tested and assessed, with the necessary actions taken accordingly.”
He trusts that it is right time that the National Risk Assessment Report be reviewed now, taking into consideration the last ESAAMLG Mutual Evaluation Report, so as to guide the implementation of our actions to strengthen our AML/CFT framework over the next three years.
“Our reputational risk is of utmost importance and the industry players should all the time monitor that our system is not being abused by outlawed Clients or Investors. It is up to the Management of each Licensee to take the necessary measures to educate employees through continuous training, mostly on anti-money laundering and combatting terrorist financing and proliferation,” he declares.
The role of our monitoring agencies
Surely, underlines Tariq Caramtali, the Regulators play an important role in ensuring that their respective Licensees are adhering to the statutory requirements, as well as the international norms as far as Anti-Money Laundering and combatting the Financing of Terrorist activities are concerned. He is of the opinion that now that Mauritius is complying with the 40 FATF Recommendations, the trend should be maintained.
“It must be understood that compliance is much more than a simple “tick box” exercise. Now, with the emergence of new technologies, compliance has taken a new step. In my humble opinion, and in the event that the monitoring agencies will not follow the global patterns, Mauritius will be back to square one. But I do appreciate that, for instance, even that we are largely compliant, the effort is still present for the Financial Services Commission as the latter is really taken up in its onsite inspection exercise to ensure that the regulatory requirements are being met by its Licensees. Ongoing workshops and trainings are also being hosted for the benefit of the financial services’ practitioners.”
He avers that the compliance of Mauritius with the FATF Recommendations is testimony to Mauritius’ commitment in being a transparent jurisdiction in the global financial services landscape and reaffirms its position as a prominent investment destination. “The FSC is doing its best and will no doubt continue to protect the integrity of the virtual assets eco-system for instance, with a view to uphold the reputation of Mauritius as a robust and credible jurisdiction,” says the Compliance expert.
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