MAURITIUS REMOVED FROM THE FATF GREY LIST
Earlier today (21 October 2021), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced that Mauritius does not require increased monitoring and, as such, has been removed from the ‘grey list’. The FATF is an inter-governmental organisation that aims to prevent money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF).
Mauritius was placed on FATF’s list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring (commonly known as the ‘grey list’) in February 2020. As a consequence of this listing, Mauritius was also listed on the EU’s list of high-risk countries (the ‘black-list’) effective from October 2020.
A high-level political commitment was made by the Government of Mauritius to swiftly resolve the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes. Since then, a series of measures (including amendments to the legislative framework) forming part of an action plan have been undertaken to implement the necessary reforms.
At its June 2021 Plenary session, the FATF made the initial determination that Mauritius had substantially completed its action plan. The FATF further warranted an on-site assessment to verify whether the implementation of Mauritius’ anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) reforms had begun and were being sustained and whether the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation in the future.
Further to the on-site assessment, which was conducted on 13 and 15 September 2021, the FATF, at its most recent October 2021 Plenary meeting, removed Mauritius from the list of jurisdictions requiring increased monitoring based on the following key reforms implemented by the country:
- conducting outreach to promote understanding of ML and TF risks and obligations;
- developing risk-based supervision plans for the Financial Services Commission effectively;
- ensuring access to accurate basic and beneficial ownership information by competent authorities in a timely manner; and
- providing training for law enforcement authorities to ensure that they have the capability to conduct ML investigations.
Mauritius has suffered considerably from being on the FATF’s grey list and EU’s black-list, but has shown an unflinching resolve to address the identified deficiencies. The news of its removal from the grey list (and potential subsequent removal from the black-list) has been much awaited and welcomed by stakeholders.
However, there is still work to be done. Mauritius requires commitment from both the public and the private sector to sustain a stronger and more effective AML/CFT framework and to further strengthen the reputation of the country as a credible and robust international financial centre.