The European Commission published a revised list of ‘high-risk third countries’ in its official journal on 21 February, which removed Mauritius from its ‘blacklist’ of countries considered to have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regimes. The changes were effective on 14 March, 20 days after publication.
The new blacklist added nine countries – the Cayman Islands, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, and South Sudan – and removed five previously listed countries – the Bahamas, Botswana, Ghana, Iraq and Mauritius.
In May 2020, the Commission adopted a revised methodology for identifying high-risk third countries under article 9 of the Directive (EU) 2015/849. Its key new elements were an increased interaction with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) listing process, an enhanced engagement with the third countries, and reinforced consultation of member states and the European Parliament.
Since the last amendments to the EU blacklist, the Commission said the FATF had updated its own list of ‘Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring’ as follows:
- At its Plenary meeting of February 2021, the FATF added Burkina Faso, the Cayman Islands, Morocco, and Senegal.
- At its Plenary meeting of June 2021, the FATF added Haiti, the Philippines and South Sudan and deleted Ghana from its list.
- At its Plenary meeting of October 2021, the FATF added Jordan, Mali and Turkey and deleted Botswana and Mauritius from its list.
In addition, the Commission said it had finalised its assessment of the Bahamas and Iraq in line with its methodology for identifying high risk third countries, in the fourth quarter of 2021. It had concluded that the Bahamas and Iraq had addressed the strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime previously identified by the Commission. It therefore recommended that The Bahamas and Iraq should also be deleted from the EU blacklist.
“The FATF welcomed significant progress made by Botswana, Ghana and Mauritius in improving its AML/CFT regime and noted that Botswana, Ghana and Mauritius have established the legal and regulatory framework to meet the commitments in their action plans regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF had identified,” said the Commission in a statement.
“The Commission’s analysis concludes that The Bahamas, Botswana, Ghana, Iraq and Mauritius no longer have strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regime considering the available information. The Bahamas, Botswana, Ghana, Iraq and Mauritius have strengthened the effectiveness of their AML/CFT regime. These measures are sufficiently comprehensive and meet the necessary requirements to consider that strategic deficiencies identified under article 9 of the Directive (EU) 2015/849 have been removed.”
“The government of Mauritius has reiterated its strong political commitment to sustain the AML/CFT reforms and the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing. The government has also made it clear that Mauritius and its regulators are committed to take bold actions that are required to protect the integrity of its financial systems, including the global business sector.”
The Mauritius Ministry of Finance said: “This illustrates the unreserved acceptance and recognition, by the global community, of the highest political commitment and the perseverance of the Mauritian authorities, and the private sector, in the national interest, to effectively implement the required reforms.
“The delisting of Mauritius also demonstrates the ability of the authorities to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, and to sustain the implementation of the AML/CFT reforms. On this front, the Core Group for AMUCFT and the National Committee for AML/CFT are working closely with relevant authorities, and the private sector, on a new, post-FATF exit, strategy to enhance the AML/CFT framework and the financial services sector.
The Financial Services Commission of Mauritius welcomed the decision, saying: “The removal from the EU’s list will enhance the status of Mauritius as a transparent jurisdiction in the global financial services sector and reinforce its position as a prominent investment destination and domicile of choice for structuring cross-border investment into Africa and Asia.”