Historical Overview and Amendments 

The legal framework for banking business in Mauritius is primarily governed by the Banking Act of 1988. This Act underwent significant amendments under the Financial Services Development Act (FSD Act) of 2001, which redefined the categorisation of banks operating in Mauritius, distinguishing between Domestic Banks and Offshore Banks.

Categorisation of Banks

Under the amended Banking Act of 1988:

  • Domestic Banks: Categorised as Category 1 Banks, these institutions operate under a Category 1 banking licence. They primarily cater to the local market and must adhere to stringent regulatory requirements aimed at safeguarding the stability and integrity of the domestic financial system.
  • Offshore Banks: Classified as Category 2 Banks, these institutions hold a Category 2 banking licence. They are permitted to conduct offshore banking activities, catering to non-resident clients and international markets. The regulatory framework for Category 2 Banks is tailored to facilitate offshore financial activities while maintaining prudential standards and regulatory oversight.

Key Provisions of Banking Legislation

The banking legislation includes stringent prudential regulations designed to mitigate risks associated with banking operations. Key provisions include:

  • Risk Concentration Limits: Regulations to prevent excessive concentration of risk.
  • Capital Adequacy Requirements: Banks must maintain a weighted capital adequacy ratio to ensure sufficient capital buffers relative to risk exposures.
  • Income Recognition and Loan Provisioning: Guidelines for income recognition and provisioning of loans and advances.

Accounting and Internal Control Standards

The legislation mandates rigorous standards for the maintenance of accounting records and internal control systems within banks. These measures are crucial for ensuring transparency, accountability, and effective risk management practices across the banking sector.

Role of the Bank of Mauritius

The regulatory framework emphasises the role of the Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, in overseeing and enforcing compliance with these regulatory requirements. The Bank of Mauritius plays a pivotal role in:

  • Promoting Financial Stability: Ensuring the overall stability of the financial system.
  • Monitoring Systemic Risks: Keeping an eye on potential risks that could impact the financial system.
  • Proactive Supervision: Fostering a sound and resilient banking sector through proactive supervision and regulatory interventions as necessary.

Conclusion

The legal framework governing banking business in Mauritius, as embodied in the Banking Act of 1988 and subsequent amendments under the FSD Act of 2001, establishes a robust regulatory environment. This framework aims to safeguard the interests of depositors, ensure financial stability, and facilitate the sustainable growth of the banking sector within the broader economy.