‘Special Licences’ in Mauritius
The Financial Services Commission, Mauritius (FSC) is the regulator for the non-banking financial services and global business. It is mandated under the Financial Services Act 2007 to license, regulate, monitor and supervise the conduct of business activities in these sectors.
Starting from modest beginnings in 1992, this sector has grown significantly to become one of the main pillars of the Mauritian economy, offering sophisticated products, services and activities that have been instrumental in driving investments and growth across continents.
The fiscal regime of Mauritius is underpinned by a transparent system that provides for a level playing field and a competitive tax bracket for businesses and individuals at a single rate of 15%. This regime has successfully generated substantive economic activities across all sectors of the Mauritian economy.
The Financial Services (Consolidated Licensing and Fees) Rules 2008 set out the licensing framework that provides for a codified list of financial services and financial business activities licensable by the FSC. The scope is wide-ranging, covering Investment, Insurance and Pensions, Global Business and Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs).
In determining the fee structure, the FSC considers the level of development of the different sectors under its supervision, as well as the need to sustain the overall competitiveness of Mauritius as an international financial centre. In addition, the government has introduced a range of corporate and personal tax incentives to help develop and build capacity for the Mauritius IFC.
Tax holidays of five to eight-years in length are currently available to the following licensees: Global Headquarters Administration, Global Treasury Activities, Overseas Family Office (single), Overseas Family Office (multiple), Investment Banking, Global Legal advisory Services and Captive Insurance.
Management Companies (MCs) such as Sovereign are service providers that act as intermediaries between their clients and the FSC. MCs are licensed by the FSC under Section 77 of the FSA to set up, manage and provide nominee and other services to a corporation that carries on or intends to carry on any global business and such class of corporation as may be prescribed, or act as corporate trustee or qualified trustee under the Trusts Act 2001.
Sovereign offers the necessary expertise in setting up companies in Mauritius and assisting with special licence applications. We provide full support during the application process to get your company properly set up and licenced in Mauritius. Beyond the application phase we also provide a full suite of services to provide ongoing support to your business. Anything from opening the corporate bank account to accounting services and payroll to specialist insurance services. We provide administration and management of these licences to ensure that they maintain full compliance with all corporate and licensing requirements and to ensure that their affairs are properly managed and controlled from their place of incorporation.
Mauritius has a very wide selection of licence types that are available to specialist financial services providers that are looking to set up and do business in and from Mauritius.
Recent examples of non-banking financial services and global business licence applications in which Sovereign has assisted include:
- Investment Adviser (Unrestricted) Licence – Under section 30 of the Securities Act, licencees are authorised to manage, under a mandate, portfolios of securities and give advice on securities transactions other than corporate finance advisory, through printed materials or any other means. Applications must be made by a corporation under a Global Business Licence and will be granted subject to FSC approval.
- Insurance Brokerage Licence – in most appllications that Sovereign has been involved with, the Investment Adviser (Unrestricted) Licence has gone hand-in-hand with the Insurance Brokerage Licence. An insurance broker is a person who arranges insurance business with insurers on behalf of prospective policyholders, or as a representative of a policyholder, and includes a reinsurance broker carrying on reinsurance brokering for an insurer.
- Payment Intermediary Services Licence – This licence will be of interest to businesses that wish to operate from Mauritius as an online Payment Service Provider (PSP). Applications must be made by a corporation under a Global Business Licence and will be granted subject to FSC approval. A licence holder can offer merchant online services for accepting electronic payments by a variety of payment methods including credit card, bank-based payments such as direct debit, bank transfer, and real-time transfer based on E-banking.
Global Headquarters Administration Licence – Mauritius
The Global Headquarters Administration (GHA) Licence was introduced in 2016 to strengthen the position of Mauritius as a regional financial and business hub. The GHA licence enables multinational companies to set up their regional administration, procurement and accounting offices within the Mauritius International Financial Centre (IFC).
Since replacing its previous deemed tax credit regime with a new partial tax exemption regime based on the guidance and requirements issued by the EU and the OECD, Mauritius has re-established itself as a jurisdiction of ‘substance’. Following its removal from the FATF’s increased monitoring process, it has also now reinforced its position as an IFC of repute.
The GHA licence opens many doors for multinationals. It allows them to centralise their operational, administrative and financial functions in a jurisdiction that ranks first amongst the African countries – and 13th globally out of 190 countries – in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report.
Investment Dealer Licence – Mauritius
The Mauritius Investment Dealer Licence, issued by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) Mauritius, permits the holder to establish a trading platform in Mauritius and trade securities and similar on behalf of clients.
The legislative requirements and framework for a company holding a Global Business Licence (GBL) and an Investment Dealer Licence in Mauritius are set out in the Securities Act 2005 and the Securities (licensing) Rules 2007. Mauritius offers the benefit of a modern securities law that is adaptive to different requirements, a reasonable timeframe for licence issuance, as well as a highly competitive minimum capital requirement.
The Mauritian Budget 2021 also extended the 80% partial tax exemption on specified income streams to companies holding an Investment Dealer Licence, reducing the effective income tax rate for holders to 3%. This partial exemption has made conducting this type of business in Mauritius even more attractive.
Investment Adviser Licence – Mauritius
The Mauritius Investment Adviser Licence is one of the three classes of ‘Securities or Capital Market Intermediary’ provided for by the Securities Act 2005 and regulated by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) Mauritius under the Securities (Licensing) Rules 2007.
According to Section 30 of the Securities Act 2005, no unlicensed person is permitted to:
- Advise, guide or recommend other persons, or hold himself out to advise, guide or recommend other persons, whether personally or through printed materials or by other means, to enter into securities transactions; or
- Manage or hold himself out to manage, under a mandate, whether discretionary or not, a portfolio of securities,
Global Treasury Activities Licence – Mauritius
The Mauritius Global Treasury (GTA) Activities Licence enables multinational enterprises (MNEs) to set up or relocate their regional treasury management functions to Mauritius.
Since replacing its previous deemed tax credit regime with a new partial tax exemption regime that is based on OECD and EU guidance and requirements, Mauritius has re-established itself as a jurisdiction of ‘substance’. Following its removal from the FATF’s increased monitoring process, it has also now reinforced its position as an International Financial Centre (IFC) of repute.
Robotic and Artificial Intelligence Enabled Advisory Services Licence
The Financial Services Commission (FSC) of Mauritius issued the Financial Services (Robotic and Artificial Intelligence Enabled Advisory Services) Rules 2021 to provide a regulated framework aimed at promoting the adoption of new and emerging technologies by licensed service providers in Mauritius.
Under the Rules, the holder of a Robotic & Artificial Intelligence Enabled Advisory Services Licence will be entitled to provide advisory services through expert systems and/or computer programmes using artificial intelligence enabled algorithms, with limited human intervention. As such, providers of innovative technology-driven solutions developed to comply with regulatory requirements – commonly known as RegTech or InsurTech –fall under the scope of this licence.
The Rules further clarify that advisory services include discretionary and non-discretionary investment and portfolio management services. A licensee is required to comply with the minimum competency standard and fitness requirements for its promoters, shareholders, directors, beneficial owners and key staff members.