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Economy May 21, 2013

Money laundering: Mauritius warns tax crooks, promises support to India

PORT LOUIS: Warning tax 'crooks' of stern action if they try to operate from its soil, Mauritius has promised full support to India in bringing to book any entity trying to indulge in money laundering or round tripping through this island nation.

Terming the perception of Mauritius being used by Indian entities for money laundering and other tax evasion activities as based on "misconception and misinformation", the country's Vice Prime Minister Xavier Luc Duval also said that some people might be using the island nation as a 'political football' to meet their own goals.

Xavier Luc Duval

Xavier Luc Duval. AFP

"You can rest assured, we will never allow crooks to do business in this country, and if they try, they will face the toughest punishment," said Duval, who is also the Finance and Economic Development Minister.

"We always aim for quality (in whatever we do). Our island's reputation is very important to our citizens, Our country is known and respected worldwide as a jurisdiction of the highest quality and integrity," he told PTI in a free-wheeling interview here.

The Minister said Mauritius has taken numerous steps over the years to ensure compliance with global norms and standards in the financial services business and it has always been a collaborative and transparent jurisdiction.

"Mauritius has always been committed to fully collaborate with other Governments, authorities to ensure effective and timely exchange of information. Obviously, at the beginning we were on a learning curve, but since then we have gained huge experience," he said.

Mauritius accounts for a major chunk of foreign investments coming into India, as many investors from the US, Europe and other places tend to route their capital flows into India through this Indian Ocean country to benefit from a favourable tax treaty and the ease of doing business here.

However, concerns have been raised in recent years that Mauritius is also being used by the tax evaders to launder their illicit funds to and from India.

There have also been allegations that Mauritius is home to a large number of shell companies that have been set up here to benefit from the favourable taxation regime and treaties and they do not have any substantial business in the country.

"Obviously as we progress as a jurisdiction, we are continually enlarging the type of services offered and the number of service providers that are here.

"We are introducing in our legislation enhanced commercial substance requirements for the global business companies operating from Mauritius," he added.

PTI


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