01 | Introduction

The Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 was gazetted on 05 August 2021 and it brings into force a number of amendments to the legislations in Mauritius. This segment of the joint Axis and BLC Robert Finance Act series sets out the key amendments made to the Business Registration Act, Companies Act, Foundations Act, Freeport Act, Immigration Act, Limited Liability, Partnerships Act, Limited Partnerships Act and Protected Cell Companies Act.

02 | Business Registration Act

The Business Registration Act has been clarified to provide that a copy (as opposed to a certified copy) of the Business Registration Card ("BRC"), displayed at the principal place of business and at every other place where a business is being carried out, is now sufficient and that a fee is applicable whenever a request is made to the Registrar of Businesses, for a change in the particulars on a BRC.

03 | Companies Act

The changes to the Companies Act have further emphasized the commitment to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The definition section has been amended to include the following terms:

  1. "FIU" which shall have the same meaning as in the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act;
  2. "suspicious transaction" which shall have the same meaning as in the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act;
  3. "suspicious transaction report" which shall mean a report made under section 14 of the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Moreover, every company service provider is now required to comply with such directions as the Registrar may give and as soon as practicable, but not later than 5 working days from the date on which it becomes aware of a transaction which it has reason to believe may be a suspicious transaction, make a suspicious transaction report to the FIU and comply with such guidelines as the FIU may issue. A company service provider may, upon authorization by the company for which it acts, provide to the competent authorities basic information as set out in section 190 of the Act.

The Registrar may undertake educational programmes to raise and deepen awareness among companies limited by guarantee and the donor community on the potential vulnerabilities of the sector to terrorism financing abuse and risks, and the measures they can take to protect themselves. The Registrar may share, with Mauritian and foreign law enforcement agencies and institutions involved in the prevention of money laundering and combating of terrorism financing and proliferation, information on companies limited by guarantee pursuant to the Act.

Last year, the Registrar was empowered to be able to remove a company from the register of companies if the company failed to identify the beneficial owner, record and submit information thereon to the Registrar. This year's amendment permits the Registrar to make public notice in this regard.

Besides the shareholder, officer, management company or registered agent, as the case may, henceforth, a representative or secretary of a company will be able to apply for a certificate of current standing in the name of the company from the Registrar.

There has also been amendment which now requires public entities to include all relevant information as set out in section 221 in their annual report.

04 | Foundations Act

The changes to the Foundations Act are axed towards raising awareness surrounding the potential use of charitable foundations in the furtherance of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. As such, the Registrar of Foundations can now undertake outreach and awareness programs, as well as share information with other Mauritian or foreign law enforcement agencies in the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing.

An officer of a foundation or a person ordinarily resident in Mauritius can now also be authorised by the foundation to provide basic information to competent authorities (investigatory authorities and public bodies responsible for combatting money laundering or terrorist financing and proliferation) upon their request.

In the same vein, records of charitable foundations should now be kept for a period of at least 7 years. These records must contain information about the use of funds received by a charitable foundation, which should be used in line with the objects of the foundation.

Finally, another noteworthy change brought about under the Finance Act to the Foundations Act concerns the consequences of a foundation, council member, secretary of the foundation not complying with their obligations of keeping appropriate records. This does not automatically lead to the removal of the foundation from the register anymore, but now leads to a notice of 30 days, from the Registrar, for the foundation to comply with its obligations.

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Originally published September 14, 2021

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