Understanding compliance laws in France and Mauritius: Sapin II vs. FCC Act 2023

Navigating financial regulations: A comparative analysis of France’s Sapin II law and Mauritius’ Financial Crimes Act 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of the financial world, the fight against financial crime remains a major concern for governments around the world. The French legislation no. 2016-1691 of 9 December 2016 on transparency, the fight against corruption and the modernisation of economic life (known as the “Sapin II Law”) and the Financial Crimes Commission Act 2023 in Mauritius are two important pieces of legislation in this area. Both laws aim to strengthen transparency, integrity and accountability within their respective financial systems. This article provides a comparative analysis of these two regulatory frameworks, highlighting their main provisions and their implications for companies and individuals operating in their respective jurisdictions.

Enacted in December 2016, the Sapin II Law is a landmark piece of legislation in France aimed at combating corruption, promoting transparency and strengthening corporate governance. Named after Michel Sapin, the French Finance Minister who led its development, the law introduces a series of measures to prevent corruption, improve corporate transparency and strengthen enforcement mechanisms.

One of the main pillars of the Sapin II law is the establishment of a comprehensive anti-corruption framework applicable to public and private sector entities. It requires the implementation of robust compliance programs, including risk assessment measures, internal controls and employee training, to prevent corruption-related activities within firms.

In addition, the Sapin II Law introduces rules aimed at improving the transparency of public procurement procedures and also strengthens the protection of whistleblowers, offering legal guarantees to people who report cases of corruption or misconduct.

The Financial Crimes Commission Act 2023 was introduced into Parliament on 5 December 2023, passed on 19 December 2023 and received Presidential assent on 21 December 2023. This important legislation was enacted by Proclamation on 29 March 2024. It should be noted that this legislation repeals numerous pieces of legislation such as the Asset Recovery Act, the Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act and the famous POCA (Prevention of Corruption Act 2002), the latter being an important piece of legislation aimed at combating corruption in Mauritius. Certain sections of the Financial Intelligence and Anti Money Laundering Act are also repealed by the new legislation.

The legislation has been much talked about in the Mauritian legal landscape since its introduction, as it represents an important step in the country’s efforts to combat financial crime and strengthen regulatory oversight. Adopted against a backdrop of growing concerns about money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit financial activities, the legislation aims to strengthen Mauritius’ regulatory framework and bring it into line with international standards.

The Sapin II Law focuses on strengthening corporate governance, promoting transparency and combating corruption in the French financial system. It places greater emphasis on corporate compliance programs, transparency in public procurement and whistleblower protection.

On the Mauritian side, the Financial Crimes Commission Act 2023 prioritises the creation of an independent regulatory authority and the implementation of stringent anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing measures to address the specific challenges faced by Mauritius as an international financial centre. It underlines the importance of international cooperation and collaboration in the fight against transnational financial crimes.

For companies and individuals operating in France and Mauritius, compliance with these regulatory frameworks is imperative to mitigate legal and reputational risks. Companies need to invest in robust compliance programs tailored to the requirements of each jurisdiction, conduct a thorough investigation of their business partners and customers, and promote a culture of integrity and transparency within their firm.

In conclusion, the Sapin II Law and the Financial Crimes Commission Act 2023 represent significant advances in the fight against money laundering, albeit using different approaches.

PLCJ Team – 8th April 2024

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