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Mauritius - Corruption

The prevalence of corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards, but graft and nepotism nevertheless remain concerns and are a source of public frustration. According to the 2016 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index, Mauritius dropped in rank from 45th to 50th place worldwide, making it third in Africa behind Botswana and Cape Verde. However, according to the 2016 Mo Ibrahim Index, Mauritius remains the top ranking country in overall governance standards in Africa for the tenth consecutive year. Although Mauritius’ generally positive reputation for transparency and accountability has been hurt by some high-profile scandals, U.S. investors, in conversations with Embassy personnel, have not identified corruption as an obstacle to investment in the country.

Several high profile court cases involving corruption still dominate the news and reinforce the perception that corruption exists at the highest political levels. A former prime minister was arrested in 2015 on allegations of money laundering while a minister of the current government had to step down in 2016 on allegations of bribery. The latter has now been formally charged.

In early 2017, a Member of Parliament was appointed Minister of Good Governance although he is still a defendant in a lawsuit alleging fraud. In March 2017 allegations surfaced in the press concerning possible political interference in the Financial Services Commission’s issuance of an investment banking license. Also in March 2017 the press reported that an “intimate friend” of the former Minister of Health is earning more than twice the customary salary for a position within the purview of the ministry.

Investors should know that while the constitution and law require arrest warrants be based on sufficient evidence and issued by a magistrate, police may detain an individual for up to 21 days under a “provisional charge” based on a reasonable suspicion, with the concurrence of a magistrate. Two French businessmen have claimed that in February 2015 authorities held them against their will.

In 2002, the government adopted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which led to the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). ICAC has the power to investigate corruption and money laundering offenses and can also seize the proceeds of corruption and money laundering. The Director of ICAC is nominated by the Prime Minister. The Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act of 2015 was announced as a measure to recover “unexplained wealth,” and came into force in early 2016. Critics of the act dislike its presumption of guilt, requiring the accused to demonstrate a legal source of questionable assets, as well as the application of the law retroactively for seven years.

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Page last modified: 09-08-2017 14:03:10 ZULU