What are the Mauritius Leaks?
After Swiss Leaks, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, over 200,000 emails, contracts and bank statements leaked from Mauritius show how the island nation was used by a long list of corporates to facilitate partnerships with multinationals and, without paying any capital gains tax, remit profits as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India.
At the heart of the 18-country collaborative investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and The Indian Express are data from Conyers Dill & Pearman, an offshore specialist law firm with several Fortune 500 companies as clients, which started operations in 1928 from Bahamas — and in 2009 from Mauritius for investments being routed to Africa and Asia.
Why is the Mauritius connection important?
Conyers Dill & Pearman was among those who benefitted in the decades when there were tax breaks for companies and corporations routing their investments to India via Mauritius, among other offshore destinations. In 2016, India amended its Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Mauritius, and the new provisions — capital gains tax, instance — are now fully applicable.
What did the law firm do in Mauritius before the treaty was amended?
It offers to set up funds, supply local directors, registered local offices, secretarial and administrative services, and assist in bank account opening/government filing.
A power-point presentation of the firm, which is part of the leaks, claims that it can set up a GBC1 (Global Business Company, tax resident in Mauritius) within 10 working days for an annual licence fee of $1,750. It points out that companies registered in Mauritius had to pay an effective income tax slab not exceeding 3% and no capital gains tax.