L’Association of Trust and Management Companies, qui regroupe plusieurs opérateurs du secteur du Global Business, réaffirme avec force dans un communiqué rendu public cette semaine, que le centre financier mauricien en est un où il y a des opérations de substance, où il y a de la stabilité et de la transparence. Selon cette association, bien que les inquiétudes soient réelles à propos de l’adoption du General Anti-Avoidance Rules comme présenté par le ministre des Finances indien dans son discours du budget 2012, plusieurs membres interrogés indiquent qu’il n’y a eu à ce jour aucune migration des clients des compagnies basées à Maurice vers Singapour.
L’Association of Trust and Management Companies (ATMC) estime que les critiques venant principalement de l’Inde selon lesquelles des compagnies établies à Maurice seraient des « boîtes postales » sont injustifiées et sans fondement. Elle soutient que les règles établies par le régulateur local sont claires quant à la nécessité pour les compagnies d’avoir des activités de substance. L’ATMC, elle-même, a demandé à ses membres d’adopter ses directives sur les « Internationally Accepted Best Practices on Substance ». L’association souligne dans le communiqué que ses inquiétudes profondes concernant les dispositions du General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) sont « valid and are shared widely globally », notamment par les organisations privées aux États-Unis. Celles-ci, par le truchement du secrétaire au Trésor américain Timothy Geithner, ont exprimé leur craintes au ministre des Finances de l’Inde. Cependant, la situation, soutient l’ATMC, est encore floue concernant les dispositions du GAAR car les débats parlementaires continuent en Inde. Le GAAR, dans sa formulation finale, n’a pas encore été approuvé par le parlement indien.
Ci-dessous le communiqué émis par l’ATMC.
« The Indian Budget 2012 was presented in the Indian Parliament last month. As we are all aware, some of the budgetary measures, specifically the proposed introduction of the General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) and the taxation of indirect transfer of shares, have raised concerns amongst the international investor community.
Many observers, government officials, investors, and other institutions have expressed their views on the budgetary measures. We, at the ATMC, here below issue a formal communiqué to our members to express our position on the matter.
The budgetary proposals are still being debated in the Indian Parliament and, at this stage, there is still considerable lack of clarity regarding the practical application of those measures. The current provisions are in draft form and are likely to change after taking into account the observations and recommendations of the report submitted by the Standing Committee on Finance for Direct Taxes Code ;
Our deep concerns are valid and are shared widely globally including, to cite a few, by large US international investor and interest groups. It has been widely reported in the international press that several powerful US trade and industry bodies including the US Chamber of Commerce and the US India Business Council have requested the US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, to discuss the proposed Indian tax amendments with India’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the latter’s visit to the annual World Bank-IMF meeting. The US trade and industry bodies take the view that “Such amendments are inconsistent with India’s specific obligations to the U. S under the current bilateral tax treaty. Furthermore, the unilateral definition of treaty terms may significantly alter the benefits and burdens of the existing Income Tax Treaty to the detriment of the U.S” ;
The introduction of GAAR seeks to address, amongst others, India’s concerns over the lack of commercial substance of some investment structures into India. Mauritius has, over the years, been a target of much criticism despite the country being subject to some of the highest level of regulations as an international financial centre. The Mauritius jurisdiction is one of substance, stability and transparency where foreign investors and multinational companies have established significant business presence and commercial operations. Service providers of international repute including fund managers, global custodians, banks, international accounting firms and law firms have established substantial presence in Mauritius to service the needs of Mauritius resident companies. Mauritius is one of the few countries which have proactively volunteered to undergo a combined phase I and phase II peer review by the Peer Review Group of the OECD Global Forum on transparency and exchange of information. Its continued inclusion on the OECD white list bears testimony to its adherence to international industry standards, regulations and best practices ;
It is pertinent to note the comments made by the Indian Finance Secretary R S Gujral on Thursday 19 April 2012 to the effect that GAAR is not directed towards any particular country. He further clarified that the application of GAAR is as from 01 April 2012 i.e. is not retrospective, that the mere fact of a part tax benefit arising from a transaction will not constitute an impermissible arrangement and that ways to ensure an independent GAAR panel are being considered ;
As members are aware, criticism with regard to the alleged establishment of shell companies, companies with PO Box address or companies operating from lawyer’s address are unwarranted and baseless. All entities operating in the financial services sector in Mauritius are required to be licensed by the Financial Services Commission and the provisions relating to substance are enshrined in the regulatory framework. The ATMC has taken the initiative to encourage its members to adopt its Guidelines on “Internationally Accepted Best Practices on Substance” which it has issued long time back with a view to enhancing the service level and provide value added services from within Mauritius ;
Based on the interaction of several of our members with international tax advisors and their feedback, the ATMC strongly believes that any proposed migration is likely to be detrimental to the interest of clients and members have reported that no such occurrence has been noted to date ;
In order to address concerns expressed by the Indian side on possible misuse of the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising senior officials from the concerned authorities of India and Mauritius was established, in August 2006. The JWG was given the following mandate :
a) to put in place adequate safeguards to prevent possible misuse of the India – Mauritius DTAC without prejudice to the economic interests of either country ; and b) to strengthen the mechanism for the “Exchange of Information” under the India – Mauritius DTAC Reassurance has been received at the highest level that the interest of Mauritius will not be harmed. The Ministry of Finance of Mauritius has issued a press communiqué on 17 April 2012 which states, amongst others, that :
“Mauritius has requested from the Indian authorities an early meeting of the Joint Working Group on the India-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC). This will build on the discussions already started in December last, and give an opportunity for Mauritius to discuss its concerns regarding the uncertainties that have arisen following the measures announced by the Indian Government in its 2012 Budget speech.”
We are monitoring the situation closely and shall keep you informed as matters progress. »