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Company and Jurisdictions

Mauritius

Global Business Company Category 2 (GBC2)

Legislation: Standard capital:
Companies Act 2001 (repealing and replacing Companies Act 1984 and International Companies Act 1994) and the Financial Services Development Act 2001. USD 100,000 is the norm. Shares need not have a par value. Authorised Share Capital is described as the Stated Capital and fractional shares are permitted.
Annual government fees: Corporate Taxation:
USD 200 Zero
Time to incorporate: Ready-made companies:
48 hours Yes.
Minimum members: Registered office required:
One, individual or corporate. Yes, must be maintained in Mauritius at the address of a licensed management company or law firm,
Local registered agent: Minimum number directors:
Yes. One, individual or corporate. A register of directors must be maintained at the registered office but only members have a right of inspection.
Officer to be locally resident: AGM required:
No. Yes.
Annual return required: Financial statements to be prepared and/or audited:
No annual returns need to be filed where a company holds a Global Business Licence. No.
Balance sheets to be filed: Share register required:
No. Yes, at registered office
To be filed with Registrar: Open to public inspection:
Yes. No, only open to members.
Exchange controls: Redomiciliation permitted:
No. Yes, in and out.
Language of incorporation: Confidentiality:
English. The Companies Act 2001 & Financial Services Development Act (FSDA) require that information be kept confidential except on proof that the information is required for the purpose of enquiry into specified criminally related activities. The Registrar and all his officers have taken an oath of office to protect confidentiality. No company search is allowed.
Bearer shares permitted:  
No

Advantages

Disadvantages


  • No need to set out objects in a Constitution, which are optional.
  • Well regulated jurisdiction from inception and therefore has largely remained free from scandal.
  • Can be converted to a GBC1 and access Double Taxation Agreements.
  • Can be incorporated as limited by both shares and guarantee
  • Becoming cumbersome, thus time-consuming, as additional declarations required over and above those used in most other areas.

International Agreements

OECD Harmful Tax Practices

Mauritius was one of six jurisdictions that gave an advance commitment to the OECD, on 24 May 2000, to exchange information with overseas authorities in criminal tax matters by 31 December 2003 and in civil tax matters by 31 December 2005.

Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA)

None.

EU Savings Tax Directive

Not applicable.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Mauritius’s regulatory regime was reviewed by the FATF in 2000 and it was not listed as a non-cooperative country or territory (NCCT) in the fight against money laundering. The FATF identified some concerns regarding the identity of directors and beneficial owners of offshore trusts but said the Economic Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, passed on 13 June 2000, reinforced the existing legislation in the prevention of and fight against money laundering.

Mauritius is a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a FATF-style regional body. In August 2003, representatives from Mauritius attended the ESAAMLG sixth meeting of the Task Force in Uganda. Mauritius also completed the first round of ESAAMLG mutual evaluations in 2003. In August 2004, Mauritius hosted the Fourth Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the ESAAMLG, and Minister Sushil Khushiram of the GOM Ministry of Industry, Financial Services and Corporate Affairs, was appointed Chairman of the ESAAMLG.

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)

Mauritius is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and to both the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Mauritius is a member of the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors.

Tax Treaties

Mauritius has a considerable number of double-tax treaties and the treaty benefits are available to all Mauritian companies except International Companies. Mauritian treaties are based on the OECD model treaty, and contain exchange of information clauses; however, the exchange is limited to matters concerning the working of the treaties themselves.

The treaty with India, which had underpinned the emergence of Mauritius as the dominant channel for FDI into India, came under attack from Indian tax authorities in 2002 as a result of alleged abuses by Indian-resident investors. But after a series of high-profile court hearings, the status quo was restored.

The Indonesian government revoked its treaty, with effect from 1 January 2005, citing "tax treaty abuses". The Indonesian authorities objected to the fact that non-Mauritian investors could, via offshore companies, invest in Indonesia companies and take advantage of the tax benefits afforded by the treaty as if they were resident in Mauritius.

Mauritius has 30 Double Tax Treaties currently in force:
  • Belgium
  • Botswana
  • Cyprus
  • Croatia
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Kuwait
  • Lesotho
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Thailand
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • Zimbabwe

Treaties signed but not yet in force:

  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • Russia
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Tunisia
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia

Treaties under negotiation:

  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Portugal
  • United Arab Emirates

General Info

Full Country Name: The Republic of Mauritius
Area: 1,865 sq km
Population: 1,230,602 (July 2005 est.)
Capital City: Port Louis
Nationality: Mauritian(s)
People: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Languages: English (official), Creole, French (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR) – MUR 27.3 per USD
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Legal system: Based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas
Head of State: President Sir Anerood Jugnauth KCMG PC QC

Geography

Mauritius is a mountainous sub-tropical island in the Indian Ocean, with an area of 1,865 square km. The Republic of Mauritius also includes the island of Rodrigues, 560km east of the principal island, and several small island dependencies. Mauritius lies some 800km to the east of Madagascar. The capital, Port Louis, is in the north west of the island. With nearly 600 people per sq km, Mauritius has one of the highest population densities in the world.


History

The first colonists were the Dutch who settled in 1638 and named the island Mauritius after Prince Maurice of Nassau. The Dutch, who eventually abandoned Mauritius in about 1710, are remembered for having introduced sugar cane to the island. The French occupied Mauritius between 1715 and 1810, renaming the country Isle de France. In 1810 the British took possession with an invasion force from the North. They reverted to the name Mauritius. Mauritius gained independence on 12 March 1968 and became a member of the Commonwealth. The Queen was Head of State until 12 March 1992 when Mauritius became a Republic.

Mauritius' history is reflected in its languages. Although English remains the official language of government and education, French is much more widely used today, especially by the media. Creole (a French-based patois used extensively for cross community communication) is the lingua franca. Several Asian languages are also spoken.

Government and Politics

Executive branch
Head of State: President Sir Anerood Jugnauth (since 7 October 2003) and Vice President Abdool Raouf Bundhun (since 25 February 2002)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Paul Berenger (since 30 September 2003)
Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
Elections: President and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms; election last held 25 February 2002 (next to be held 2007); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly
Election results: Karl Offmann elected president and Raouf Bundhun elected vice president; note - Karl Offmann stepped down on 30 September 2003
Legislative branch

Unicameral National Assembly (66 seats; 62 elected by popular vote, 4 appointed by the election commission from the losing political parties to give representation to various ethnic minorities; members serve five-year terms)

Elections: last held on 11 September 2000 (next to be held NA September 2005)

Election results: seats by party - MSM/MMM 54, MLP/PMSD 6, OPR 2

Judicial branch

Supreme Court

Mauritius is one of the few countries with a hybrid legal system based on English and French law. The procedural law both in criminal and civil litigation is mainly English whilst the substantial law is mainly based on the French Napoleonic code. The Company Law is modelled on the English law. The highest court of appeal is the Privy Council in England.

Political parties and leaders

Mauritian Labour Party or MLP (Navinchandra Ramgoolam); Mauritian Militant Movement or MMM (Paul Berenger) - in coalition with MSM; Mauritian Social Democrat Party or PMSD (Charles Xavier-Luc Duval); Militant Socialist Movement or MSM (Pravind Jugnauth) - governing party; Rodrigues Peoples Organization or OPR (Serge Clair)


Economy

Basic economic facts

GDP (2004 est.): USD 15.68 billion (2002/2003)

Growth rate (2004 est.): 4.7%

Per capita GDP (2004 est.): USD 12,800

Main Industries: EPZ (Export Processing Zone) enterprises (mainly textiles), tourism, sugar, financial services

Mauritius enjoys a stable and relatively sound economy. The government's intention is to model the island on Singapore with a free port, expansion of offshore financial services, manufacturing and modernisation of traditional industries. With a growing realisation that the traditional industries of textiles and sugar will not be sufficient to ensure future wealth and job creation, the government is giving high priority to development in the information technology sector; the aim being to transform Mauritius into a cyber island. Tourism continues to attract investment in several new hotels.

Mauritius is a developing financial hub and a major route for foreign investments into the Asian sub-continent. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over USD1 billion.

GBC1 Companies, which were previously known as "Offshore Companies", are formed under the Companies Act 2001 and now regulated by the Companies Act 2001. The substantial advantage offered by the GBC 1 Company is that it may be structured to be tax resident in Mauritius, and may thereby access the taxation treaties signed by Mauritius. This makes it extremely attractive to invest in one of these treaty partner countries because tax treaties provide that profits can then be withdrawn from that country either without the imposition of withholding tax or subject to a substantially reduced rate of withholding tax.

In 2001, the Financial Services Development Act was passed. This Act established the Financial Service Commission (FSC), which performs the functions that were formerly carried out by the Mauritius Offshore Business Activities Authority (MOBAA). The FSC is responsible for the regulation, which includes the licensing, of the non-bank financial sector. All applications to form offshore companies (now called global business companies or GBCs) must be reviewed by the FSC. Information on companies can also be requested from the FSC. Along with reviewing of applications, the FSC supervises activities of GBCs.

Money laundering is a criminal offence in Mauritius. In February 2002, Mauritius approved the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which replaced the Economic Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2000. The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act provides for the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) located within the Ministry of Economic Development, Financial Services, and Corporate Affairs. The FIU became operational on 9 August 2002. The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act also imposes penalties on persons committing money laundering offences; establishes suspicious activity reporting obligations for banks, financial institutions, cash dealers, and relevant professions; and provides for cooperation with the FIUs of other countries.


Mauritius is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union (AU). Mauritius has close economic links with South Africa and India and was instrumental in setting up the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). It is a member of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group and took a leading role in the ACP/EU negotiations leading to the Cotonou Agreement. Mauritius is also a member of the Indian Ocean Commission (which promoted co-operation between the islands of the Indian Ocean), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of which it became Chairman in August 2004 and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).





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