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Friday, 03 August 2012 13:01

National Assembly – The House stands adjourned until October

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The last sitting of the second part of the second session of the Fifth National Assembly was adjourned on Friday 27 July for Tuesday 23 October 2012.House members went on winter holidays after attending 17 sittings.
On the agenda, a Private Notice Question from the leader of the Opposition and the resumption and conclusion of debate on ‘The Supplementary Appropriation (2011) Bill.’ Paul Bérenger questioned the Prime Minister on recent reported cases (of more than two weeks ago!) of attempts to use Mauritius for trafficking of arms.

The PNQ focused on the interim report from the Conflict Awareness Project, following which he wanted to know if the commissioner of Police has carried out an inquiry therein, indicating if two known Russians, former associates of convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout are involved and why their involvement went undetected; the identity of their local contacts; if the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Financial Services Commission and the ICAC have carried out inquiries; if  a local bank reported a failed compliance check involving the two known Russians and finally if police officers and those of the BOI and the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations are involved in the affair.

In his reply, the Prime Minister recalled the statement he made at the National Assembly on 24 July when he said that his government was taking ‘a very serious view of this matter and shall undertake whatever action necessary to prevent Mauritius and its institutions from being used for any illicit purposes and will spare no effort to maintain our standing as a jurisdiction of sound repute.’

After indicating that Mauritius has signed international protocols on Arms Trade he gave a brief history of how applications made by those involved in the arms trafficking affair were turned down by the local authorities and which were even followed by the arrest of a Mauritian national, “well before the publication of the preliminary report of Ms Austin thanks to our vigilance.”

He added that following information received from the Commissioner of Police that, ‘at the time of their arrival and during the processing of their application for an Air Operation Certificate, none of the two persons mentioned in the report was the subject of any of the adverse notices of Interpol.’
He also informed the House that the persons concerned locally at different points in time are as follows -

(i) For Superfly Aviation the names of the shareholders/Directors are -
1. Mr Marie Teddy Sergio Harrison
2. Mr Alen Keswachand Topsy
3. Mr André Louw Pretorius
4. Mr Mark Owen Ferreria
5. Mr Andrey Kosolapov
6. Mr Sergey Denisenko
7. Mr Nadeem Aktar Talat Mosafeer

(ii) For Island Air System Ltd the names of the shareholders/Directors are as follows -
1. Mr Mohammad Ajmal Gooman
2. Mr Andrey Kosolapov
3. Mr Sergey Denisenko;
that as from 27 July 2011, Mr Yousouf Abdul Razack Mohamed, Senior Counsel, was the legal representative of Mr Andrey Kosolapov, the prospective investor, and he was assisting him in the forgery case lodged by Mr Kosolapov against Mr Teddy Harrison, Director of Superfly Aviation Ltd.
With regard to Island Air System Ltd, which was incorporated on 13 April 2011, the CEO is Barrister Zakir Mohamed.’

As regards the question on banks, “all banks in Mauritius have to comply with section 14 of the Financial Intelligence and Anti Money Laundering Act and submit to the Financial Intelligence Unit a Suspicious Transaction Report in case of suspicion of an illegal transaction. I am informed that the Bank of Mauritius and the Financial Intelligence Unit are already investigating whether suspicious accounts may have been opened in Commercial Banks in Mauritius, one of which has been named in the Conflict Awareness Project Report.’

Investigation is also being carried out into whether any Mauritian company has been used for transferring proceeds of trafficking in arms or money laundering.

The head of government also assured the House “that there is no evidence as at now to suggest the wrongful involvement of any Police Officer, or any officer of the Board of Investment and of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment.’

He reaffirmed “that we will consider all additional measures that would be necessary to strengthen our control monitoring and detection systems; and explained that ‘our control systems, in place at the material time did not reveal any links between the two Russians and Viktor Bout.’

The Prime Minister concluded by saying “ that no one in this country is above the law and I will never in anyway intervene to prevent the enforcement of the law against anyone involved in any criminal or wrongful activities whoever that person may be.”

Following supplementary questions from the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister informed the House that Andrey Kosolapov had already left the country, before the report came out and that if there was prima facie case against the Minister mentioned in press reports he would look into whether the latter should step down.

Dr Navin Ramgoolam reaffirmed that “Ms Austin will be given the possibility of coming here to depone, to cooperate, and that her security and the security of any other witness will be fully guaranteed as it is ‘my first duty’ to protect the reputation of Mauritius.”

L’Express blamed
Following a complaint received by the Speaker of the National Assembly from Dr Rihun Hawoldar on 19 July 2012 in relation to an article under the caption: ‘“Affaire Harte - Ramgoolam blâme le jury”, which appeared in the daily l’Express on 18 July 2012, the Speaker told the House that “I have considered the matter. The contents of the article entitled “Affaire Harte -Ramgoolam blâme le jury” may constitute an offence under section 6 subsection 1 paragraph (o) of the National Assembly (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act.
I would invite Dr. the Hon. Hawoldar to make the appropriate Motion under Standing Order 74, paragraph 4 of the Standing Orders and Rules of the National Assembly 1995.”

Dr. Hawoldar then stated that: “Mr Speaker, Sir, in the light of your ruling, I move that the article under the caption “Affaire Harte - Ramgoolam blâme le jury” which appeared in the daily l’Express on 18 July 2012, be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for appropriate action. I am laying a copy of the article on the Table of the Assembly.”

The vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping rose and seconded.

Debates on Government Programme 2012-2015
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Dr Rashid Beebeejaun then proceded with the resumption of debates on the ‘The Supplementary Appropriation (2011) Bill.’ He talked lengthily on measures included in the three-year Government Programme, “which unequivocally clearly charts the course which Government has set itself. And this is –

(i) to achieve its goal of creating a more prosperous and equitable society where every Mauritian will find opportunities to thrive and improve his quality of life;

(ii) it is an ambitious programme which builds on past successes, and

(iii) proposes new and innovative measures, and this commitment to improve the quality of life of our countrymen is at the heart of this programme.”

Dr Beebeejaun was followed by the Prime Minister who concluded on the Bill by saying: “Since 2005, our economy has been subjected to external shocks, one after the other. We have had to ride out the surge in petroleum and food prices. We have had to face the global financial turmoil and the worst recession that the world has experienced and now, we are dealing with the crisis in the Euro zone and the rebalancing of the global economy. It is a lot of crises in a short span of time. But throughout and until now, our economy has shown extraordinary resilience. The performance of our economy has indeed been impressive.

We have attracted record levels of FDI at a time when the global economy was at its most precarious state. Moody’s has upgraded our country at a time when three rating agencies, including Fitch and Standard and Poor’s, have been downgrading many countries, and countries which are much more advanced than ours: the United States of America, France, Spain, Italy and so on. In fact, Moody’s has in the past 18 months downgraded 23 countries and some of them for several times. This surely says a lot about the performance and management of our economy.”

3 Bills voted
The Police Complaints Bill, the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill and the National Preventive Mechanism Bill were read and passed at the National Assembly on Tuesday, 24 July 2012.                




Indradev Curpen

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