Mauritius: Illicit enrichment is the key motivating factor of organised crime groups, and denying them the financial benefits of their crimes is a profound disincentive for criminality. As such, seamless communication and cooperation, at both national and international levels, between Financial Intelligence Units, Police, Prosecutors, and Asset Recovery Agencies is a critical aspect and provides the platform supporting effective counteraction.
The Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, made this statement today at the Holiday Inn Mauritius hotel in Plaine Magnien during the official ceremony of the regional launch of the European Union (EU) Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism Platform in East, South, Centre of Africa & Yemen (AML-CFT ESCAY) Project, combined with the High-Level Meeting of the Heads of Asset Recovery Agencies.
This three-day event, hosted by the EU, the ESCAY Project Team and the Integrity Reporting Services Agency (IRSA), is being attended by representatives of some 34 sovereign Nations. The EU Ambassador to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Vincent Degert, and other personalities were also present for the opening ceremony.
In his address, Minister Seeruttun highlighted that this workshop provides the ideal opportunity for Agency Heads to exchange ideas and best practices as well as to share and learn others’ experiences in applying their legislation. He pointed out that in Mauritius, the two agencies concerned with Asset Recovery, namely the IRSA and the Asset Recovery Investigation Division under the Financial Intelligence Unit, have left no stone unturned in denying criminals of benefits of crime.
As the criminal ecosystem is constantly evolving and adapting to changing circumstances, observed the Minister, the law enforcement ecosystem should also be alive to change and the need to adapt. Moreover, he remarked the extent to which assets can be confiscated is wholly dependent on the legislation underlying asset recovery efforts.
Furthermore, he underlined that the asset recovery framework in Mauritius covers both conviction-based and non-conviction-based asset forfeiture. Our country, he emphasised, is among the few countries that have taken a novel approach to laws that target Unexplained Wealth and introduced the concept of Unexplained Wealth to the canon of the Mauritian Asset confiscation regime.
For this part, Ambassador Degert reminded us that Africa loses USD 89 billion per year in illicit financial flows. As such, he underscored, the objective of the ESCAY Project is to disrupt transnational organised crime groups by targeting their financial resources through a combination of actions, namely, awareness raising, improved investigation and prosecution capacity, and enhanced cross-border and multi-agency cooperation.
Mr Degert seized this opportunity to recall the process of the delisting of Mauritius from the EU and Financial Action Task Force lists of High-Risk Countries for AML-CFT following the implementation of thorough reforms by the Mauritian Government.
He also commended Mauritius for the progress made in anti-money laundering and reassured of the EU’s commitment to continuously assist countries in the fight against money laundering.