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Mauritius assures help to India in SIT’s black money probe

Mauritius, often accused of being a route for round-tripping of funds by Indians, today conveyed to Indian government that it was ready to support its Special Investigation Team (SIT) to unearth black money.

This was conveyed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade Arvin Boolell during a meeting here, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.

Boolell conveyed that Mauritius will take measures to ensure it remains “jurisdiction of repute”, he said.

Mauritius used to be the biggest gateway for flow of funds into India through FDI as well as FII routes, but its position has come down amid concerns about this island nation being used for round-tripping of funds.

It recently slipped to the second place after the US in terms of quantum of money being brought in by overseas investors into Indian markets.

According to Sebi, Mauritius accounted for Rs 3.31 lakh crore worth ‘assets under custody’ of foreign institutional investors in the Indian equity and debt markets at the end of 2013, as against over Rs 4.37 lakh crore in case of the US.

Fund flows from Mauritius have fallen amid concerns about suspected money-laundering, even though this Indian Ocean island nation has been consistently denying such allegations.

India has concerns that Mauritius, which is one of the top sources of foreign direct investments into the country, is being used for round-tripping of funds. Round-tripping is usually referred to routing of domestic investments through Mauritius to take advantage of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries.

The island nation received requests for information in 97 cases from India during one-year period ended August, 2014.

According to a Mauritius government official, 85 per cent of those requests have been resolved and efforts are on to address concerns of Indian authorities in the remaining ones.

“Between August 2013 and August this year, we have received requests in as many as 97 cases for the exchange of information with Indian authorities and we have already provided banking information and other financial details to them in 85 per cent of these cases,” M Rawoteea, Head Analyst at Ministry of Finance, Mauritius had told PTI earlier.

Over the past few years, effective exchange of information between the two countries has taken place in at least 170 cases.

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