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Banking Sector in Mauritius

The Bank of Mauritius is empowered by the Banking Act 1988 and the Bank of Mauritius Act to carry out the supervision and regulation of banks based in Mauritius. The banking sector of Mauritius recorded steady growth in the recent period. Bank profits remained high and well sustained. Structural changes, including enhanced delivery of banking services, reflect the direction taken by the sector. Two locally incorporated banks engaged in cross-border banking by setting up subsidiaries and/or branches in several countries, principally in the region. Pursuing its selective licensing approach and rigorous regulation and supervision of banks, the Bank of Mauritius strengthened the prudential management of banks. The policy approach of the Bank is to emphasize the need for Mauritian banks to remain in the mainstream of world jurisdictions which benefit from a highly regulated market of best international practices.
In keeping with the objectives to consolidate the provision of banking services from a soundly regulated environment, the Bank of Mauritius joined with other international regulatory bodies in the furtherance of strong supervisory practices. Other than corresponding regularly with other central banks pursuing this objective, the Bank became a member of the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors (OGBS) in May 1989 and keeps close touch with the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision, an emanation of the G-1 0 and a recognized forum for the setting up of standards for best regulatory and supervisory practices. The Bank of Mauritius also fosters strong ties with the 16-member East and Southern Africa (ESAF) Banking Supervisors Group, of which it is a member since July 1993. These international associations and commitments poise the Bank in the position of an experienced and established supervisory authority.
Ten domestic banks and eleven offshore banks licensed under section 3 of the Banking Act 1988 are currently in operation. Domestic banks widened their network of services through branches, counters, ATMs, phone banking reflecting sustained demand for both volume and quality service. Banks diversified their services to both personal and corporate customers. This diversification is being achieved, inter alia, by investing in state-of-the-art technology and the offer of enhanced services such as plastic cards (cash, credit and debit cards), phone banking and internet banking. Most banks operate on-line on a real time basis with their branches.
Domestic banks also diversified into non-banking business through subsidiaries and affiliates. Banks are engaged, inter alia, in the provision of leasing, stock broking, asset and fund management, investment and private banking business, insurance agency, portfolio as well as custodial management.
More than a decade ago, the Bank of Mauritius started licensing offshore banks, with a view to generating a critical mass of international financial business based in Mauritius but networked globally by the presence in Mauritius of reputed international banks. This strategy was associated with the extensive liberalization of financial markets the world over and based on the perception that Mauritius could participate actively in an area of business that was bound to grow with international liberalization of markets. In this context, favorable factors included the strategic geographical location of Mauritius and its stable political and social environment in the region as well as the consideration that Mauritius was poised to play the role of a soundly regulated financial hub between Africa and Asia. Since then, the offshore banking sector has recorded sustained growth.

During the past five years, 5 additional offshore banks were licensed including Investec Bank (Mauritius) Limited and Deutsche Bank (Mauritius) Limited. Offshore banks are engaged in a wide range of internationally based business, including private banking, foreign exchange trading, fund management, investment advisory services, trade financing, trusteeship of offshore trusts and custodial services.

Last Updated on: 20-04-2010

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