A consortium of international investigative journalists claim having discovered evidence for a scandalous fiscal evasion that includes individuals linked to Mauritius.
The Navin Ramgoolam affair has not been restricted to our local media only. International press has also mentioned of the conspiracy and money-laundering charges that have been levelled against him. Unfortunately, this is not the only issue that is fuelling our country’s ‘notoriety’ these days. Mauritius has been listed in a global tax evasion scandal; the affair has been called Swiss Leaks.
According to the information provided by a panel of international investigative journalists, the HSBC Private Bank based in Switzerland has encouraged a great bunch of its clients towards fiscal evasion. The latter make up a group of more than 100 000, and are said to be originating from around 200 countries including ours.
The evidence brought forth by the reporters are bank data dating from 2005 to 2007.
It seems that around 180.6 billion euros have been transferred to Geneva via HSBC bank accounts of more than 100 000 clients and 20 000 offshore firms.
Mauritius, ranked 94th
Our island has been ranked 94th in the list of countries involved in the Swiss Leaks affair. The list has been elaborated according to the amount of money transferred through the bank.
81 clients from Mauritius are said to have transferred USD 141 million – Rs 4.64 billion – through 71 client accounts from 1980 to 2006.
The 71 accounts are linked to 210 bank accounts.
Of the 81 clients, 19 have a Mauritian passport and/ or national identity card. The rest are from offshore firms.
The consortium of reporters have, however, highlighted that they have not accused the clients of having disregarded the law. It has not been determined that any of them has, in fact, violated the law.
Furthermore, a business lawyer specialised in offshore, Penny Hack, has stated that the Swiss Leaks report does not affirm that the 81 clients linked to Mauritius have indeed been perpetrators of fiscal fraud. Moreover, those having a Mauritian passport are not necessarily Mauritians themselves.
It is also to be noted that it is no crime to have a Swiss bank account.
If any crime has indeed been committed, it is up to the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) to carry out proper investigations to shed light on the affair.
The question of fiscal fraud would arise if one has hidden any of one’s money with the aim to avoiding having to pay the Income Tax fee. The authorities thus have to clarify the matter, as to whether or not the individuals linked to the Swiss Leaks affair have indeed broken the law by hiding away their money in this manner.