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Mauritius says its banking rules don't allow money laundering

world Updated: May 17, 2013 13:33 IST

Dismissing the perception of Mauritius being a route for round-tripping and laundering of black money to and from India, the country's banking industry body says that the laws governing its banks are too stringent to be abused for illicit activities.

"We have not seen a single case of round tripping through our banks that has been proved either within Mauritius or anywhere abroad," Mauritius Bankers Association (MBA) Chief Executive Officer Aisha Timol said.

"It is not just the central bank, but revenue and other authorities also keep a close eye for any possible irregularities related to round tripping and other offences.

"The regulations are very stringent here and there is no scope for round tripping through our banks," Timol told PTI in an interview in Port Louis.

"The regulations here ensure that Mauritius banks are not used for any money laundering activities or round tripping. Besides, India being a very important partner, we place an extra emphasis on ensuring fair business practices by the companies investing in India and we are always more than ready to assist Indian authorities in their pursuit of ensuring that funds coming to or from India are legitimate money and not the black money."

"The perception that Mauritius is being used for laundering black money is entirely wrong and the rules here can never allow round tripping or any form of illegitimate operations," she said.

Emphasising that banks in this island nation are subjected to very strong regulations, she said Mauritius is very particular about following all the international regulatory standards on financial markets, including banks.

"Besides, we have a very strong set of our own rules for compliance to KYC (Know Your Customer) norms, Anti Money Laundering norms and Countering Financial Terrorism norms," she added.

The MBA is an umbrella industry body of 21 banks operating in the country and these include banks from India, such as SBI and Bank of Baroda, as also big global names like Barclays, HSBC, Standard Bank (of South Africa) and the domestically incorporated banks like State Bank of Mauritius and Mauritius Commercial Bank.

The 21 players in the Mauritian banking industry comprise 7 local banks, 9 foreign owned subsidiaries, one joint venture and 4 branches of foreign banks. All the banks are licensed by the Bank of Mauritius to carry out banking business locally and internationally.