Amendments to the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act and the Foundations Act: Wider scope of restrictions

The Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act 1975 and the Foundations Act 2012 have been amended on 27 April 2021 to cater for a loophole in our current legislation.

The amendments brought by the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) (Amendment) Bill 2021 impose a restriction on a non-citizen who is a founder, beneficial owner, ultimate beneficial owner or beneficiary of a foundation to hold, dispose of, purchase or otherwise acquire property, unless prior authorisation of the Prime Minister’s Office is obtained.

It has also been decided to enlarge the list of acts requiring prior approval of the PMO to include the term “dispose of” which is given a wide definition to include the “burdening of a property with a mortgage or a charge”.

Non-citizens cannot dispose of their properties, which include any immovable property and shares in a partnership, société or body corporate which reckon amongst its assets any immovable property in Mauritius, without seeking and obtaining the prior authorization of the PMO.

A Non-Citizen who wishes to hold, dispose of, purchase or otherwise acquire a property shall therefore make a written application to the PMO which must contain the following information:

•  the precise location of the property
•  a site plan showing its extent and precise location
• the nature of the interest intended to be held, disposed of, purchased or otherwise acquired
•  the reason for which the application is made and
•  such other information as may be required

Non-compliance with the requirements of the law may have serious implications as it may entail the nullity of any contravening agreement and the sale of the property by the Curator of Vacant Estates and is constitutive of a criminal offence.

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