A number of leading Offshore jurisdictions have taken the step of regulating Blockchain focussed enterprises including the Cayman Islands, The British Virgin Islands and Mauritius.
This article takes an in-depth look at the Mauritius model of regulation.
The Mauritius Virtual Asset and Initial Token Offering Services Act 2021 (the “Act”) came into force on the 7th of February 2022.
The Act sets out a comprehensive legislative framework to regulate the business activities of virtual assets service providers and initial token offerings.
It has been developed inter alia in accordance with international standards established by the Financial Action Task Force to manage, mitigate and prevent anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism risks associated with these emerging and innovative business activities.
CATEGORIES OF ACTIVITIES LICENSED
The Act regulates two main categories of activities:
A. VASP, meaning a person who conducts, as a business activity, for or on behalf of another person one or more of the following activities or operations, namely:
(a) exchange between VAs (“Virtual Assets”) and fiat currencies;
(b) exchange between one or more forms of VAs;
(c) transfer of VAs;
(d) safekeeping of VAs or instruments enabling control over VAs;
(e) administration of VAs or instruments enabling control over VAs; or
(f) participation in, and provision of, financial services related to an issuer’s offer and sale of a VA; or an issuer’s offer or sale of a VA.
B. Issuers of ITOs, are companies registered under the Act and making issuance of ITOs. An ITO is an offer for sale to the public of a VT in exchange for fiat currency or another VA.
What are the different licences available under the VASP regime?
VASP consists of several sub-categories of licences as follows:
a. Holders of Class M (Virtual Asset Broker-Dealer) licences carry out activities such as exchange between VAs and fiat currencies; or exchange between one or more forms of VAs.
b. Class O (Virtual Asset Wallet Services) licences pertain to the transfer of VAs.
c. Class R (Virtual Asset Custodian) licensees are responsible for safekeeping of VAs or instruments enabling control over VAs; administration of VAs or instruments enabling control over VAs.
d. Class I (Virtual Asset Advisory Services) licence is required for the participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and/or sale of VAs.
e. Virtual asset exchanges must apply for a Class S (Virtual Asset Market Place) licence. A Virtual Asset Exchange is a centralised or decentralised virtual platform, whether in Mauritius or in another jurisdiction which facilitates the exchange of VAs for fiat currency or other VAs on behalf of third parties for a fee, a commission, a spread or other benefit and which:
(a) holds custody, or controls VAs, on behalf of its clients to facilitate an exchange; or
(b) purchases VAs from a seller when transactions or bids and offers are matched in order to sell them to a buyer.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL ASSET?
A Virtual Asset (“VA”), according to the VAITOS Act 2021, is a digital representation of value which may be digitally traded or transferred, and may be used for payment or investment purposes, but does not include a digital representation of fiat currencies, securities and other financial assets that fall under the purview of the Securities Act.
The definition of Virtual Asset Exchange also includes the owner or operator of the virtual platform, but excludes a platform only providing a forum where sellers and buyers may post bids and offers and a forum where the parties trade in a separate platform or in a peer-to-peer manner.
What are the requirements for the application of a VASP licence?
1. An application for a VASP licence, specifying the relevant class or sub-category of licence sought, must be made to the FSC.
2. The applicant must:
i. be a duly registered company carrying on business activities in or from Mauritius;
ii. be directed and managed from Mauritius;
iii. have a physical office in Mauritius and
iv. ensure that each of its controllers, beneficial owners, associates and officers satisfy the ‘fit and proper’ criteria of the FSC.
In its determination of whether the applicant is directed and managed from Mauritius, the FSC may consider:
i. the location of the strategy, risk management and operational decision making;
ii. the location of the executives responsible for such decision making or the management team meets to effect policy decisions;
iii. where board meetings take place; and
iv. the place of residence of officers, employees or directors, amongst other factors.
OCI can assist you to apply for a VASP license in Mauritius. Would you like to know more? Then please Contact Us:
DISCLAIMER: OCI is a Company/Trust/LLC/LP/Foundation Formation Agency. We are not tax advisers or legal advisers. You are advised to seek local legal/tax/financial advice in regards to your local reporting/tax requirements before committing to set up or use an Offshore Company or other entity.