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Lexis+ AI
Malcolm Moller

Group Managing Partner (Mauritius, Seychelles), Appleby

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One of the notable features of the act is the consolidation of existing legislation related to financial crimes

Mauritius' efforts to combat financial crimes

International
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Mauritius' efforts to combat financial crimes

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Malcolm Moller explores Mauritius' Financial Crimes Commission Act

The passing of the Mauritius Financial Crimes Commission Act on 21 December 2023 in marks a commendable and significant milestone in the country's ongoing efforts to combat financial crimes. This comprehensive legislation came into force on 29 March 2024.

Consolidation of Existing Legislation

One of the notable features of the act is the consolidation of existing legislation related to financial crimes. By repealing and replacing the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Asset Recovery Act, the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act, and Part II of the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Financial Crimes Commission Act creates a new legal framework that not only retains but also reinforces the existing provisions. This consolidation streamlines the enforcement of these laws, making them more effective in combating financial crimes.

Several consequential amendments have been made to various acts, including, but not limited to: (1) The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act (FIAMLA); (2) The Banking Act; (3) The Declaration of Assets Act; (4) the Gambling Regulatory Authority Act; (5) the Income Tax Act; (6) the Real Estate Agent Authority Act; (7) the Registrations of Association Act; (8) the Financial Services Act; (9) the Trust Act; and (10) the United Nations(Financial Prohibitions, Arms Embargo and Travel Ban) Sanctions Act.

The regulatory bodies for various professions have been updated as follows: (a) law firms, foreign law firms, joint law ventures and foreign lawyers under the Law Practitioners Act, Attorneys, Barristers and Notaries will now be regulated by the Attorney-General’s Office; (b) Dealers in jewellery, precious stones or precious metals will now be regulated by The Assay Office; and (c) Real Estate Agents, including Land Promoters and Property Developers, will now be regulated by The Real Estate Agent Authority. This reformation is not merely a matter of substitution, but rather a reinforcement of the legal framework, ensuring that the provisions of the repealed enactments are not only preserved, but also strengthened. By consolidating and streamlining the legal framework, the new legislation will provide a more robust and cohesive approach to addressing financial crimes, thereby enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of enforcement mechanisms.

Efficient and Coordinated Approach

Another significant aspect of this act is the consolidation of responsibilities under the Financial Crimes Commission. The commission will now take over the functions and powers previously held by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Asset Recovery Investigation Division of the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Integrity Reporting Services Agency. This consolidation leads to a more efficient and coordinated approach in tackling financial crimes, ensuring a stronger response to illicit activities.

Enhanced Accountability and Oversight

To enhance accountability and oversight within the commission, the act reintroduces the Operations Review Committee. This committee, which was previously established under the Prevention of Corruption Act, will play a crucial role in overseeing case investigation and management. By reintroducing this mechanism, the act demonstrates a commitment to maintaining transparency and integrity throughout the process.

Comprehensive Approach

The act amends various acts to align them with the new legislation and address matters connected to financial crimes. This comprehensive approach ensures that all relevant legislation is in line with the overarching goal of preventing and prosecuting such offenses. By addressing these interrelated issues, the act provides a robust legal framework for combating financial crimes.

Smooth Transition and Continuity

Savings and transitional provisions included in the act guarantee a smooth transition from existing agencies to the Financial Crimes Commission. This provision ensures continuity in ongoing proceedings, investigations, orders, and prosecutions initiated by ICAC, the Asset Recovery Investigation Division, or the Integrity Reporting Services Agency. This seamless transition enables the commission to effectively address ongoing financial crime cases.

Recognizing Interconnected Nature

Furthermore, the act acknowledges the interconnected nature of financial crimes with other regulatory frameworks. It amends various acts such as the Bail Act, Banking Act, Courts Act, and others to ensure a coordinated and integrated response across different legislative domains. This inclusive approach reflects a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted dimensions of financial crimes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the act represents a commendable and proactive step towards combating financial crimes. Through the establishment of the commission, consolidation of existing legislation, reinforcement of accountability mechanisms, and recognition of the interconnected nature of financial crimes, the act demonstrates a strong commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity and governance.

It positions Mauritius as a jurisdiction dedicated to combating financial crimes and safeguarding its financial system. The implementation of this legislation is expected to significantly bolster Mauritius's efforts in combatting financial crimes and contribute to the overall stability and reputation of its financial sector.

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