In August 2019, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced that businesses have used Mauritius as a tax shelter from 1992 to the present. Mauritius originally set up a series of tax treaties with 46 African countries under the guise of bringing prosperity to the continent. However, it became an avenue for businesses from India and the Western world to exploit some of the world’s poorest countries. Under the system, an international corporation can establish a headquarters in Mauritius, which charges few taxes, and funnel revenues gained in other African countries through their head office without paying taxes to the originating country. African capitalists and the Mauritian business class also have also taken full advantage of the tax haven.
While international corporations and the local business class prosper, many African nations that are already struggling against stalled economic development suffer from lost revenues. The report noted Uganda as an example, where over forty percent of people live on under two dollars a day. In January 2019, Mauritius updated some laws at the behest of global organizations such as the OECD or the European Union, but is continuing negotiations with 16 countries to bring sixty percent of the continent’s nations under the tax treaties.
While past ICIJ investigations into offshore tax havens have been widely reported, there is zero corporate media coverage of this release. Some news sources in India and Africa have picked it up, but there is no mention from Western media apart from journalist committees and their allies.
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, “Treasure Island: Leak Reveals How Mauritius Siphons Tax From Poor Nations To Benefit Elites” AfricaFocus, August 12, 2019, http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/iff1908a.php.
AT Editor, “‘Mauritius Leaks’ Details Africa’s Revenue Loss to Offshore Tax Haven,” Africa Times, July 24, 2019. https://africatimes.com/2019/07/24/mauritius-leaks-details-africas-revenue-loss-to-offshore-tax-haven/.
Student Researcher: Jasper Watrich (University of Regina)
Faculty Advisor: Sayda Momtaha Habib (University of Regina)