Forming your own bank in tax neutral jurisdictions sound like a tempting idea today. One of those places is The Comoro Islands or Comoros. Mohéli [mɔ.e.li], also known as Mwali, is an autonomous island that forms part of the Union of Comoros. It is the smallest of the three major islands in the country. The island of Mwali has a permit for the operation of Banking Companies, Insurance Companies, Gambling Companies, and Trust and Brokerage Companies through the issuance of licenses for these activities. The Mwali International Services Authority (MISA) the process of providing licenses for regulated financial entities and gaming casinos commenced in 1998 through legislation called Mwali Services Law 1998. Offshore banking licenses are granted by MISA exclusively to Mwali IBCs.
Doubts and research about authenticity of the licenses
It has been questioned as to whether the licenses provided by MCSL and MISA are genuine and issued by the competent authorities of the island of Moheli (Mwali) Comoros and if these licenses are suitable for the conduct of cryptocurrency businesses.
MISA on its website states that it is “the only Authority for the autonomous territory of Moheli (Mwali), responsible for financial services and licensing.” It also claims on the same link that “at the moment, by M.I.S.A. were registered over 12000 companies, including 45 Banking, 36 Insurance, 27 Trust and Brokerage entities and 12 Betting (Gambling) companies.
MCSL states on its website that it “is a recognized leader for business, legal and financial services in Comoros. It is authorized by the Legislative Assembly of the Moheli Finance Authority for the marketing of all licenses the Moheli FM issues all banking Licenses, Online gaming Licenses, Insurance Licenses, brokerage Licenses & Foundations as well as Moheli International business companies (IBC).
Moheli Financial Service Industry Risk
The existence of an offshore banking and financial services industry in Moheli which provides licenses to international business companies, banks, and insurance companies has been recognized by the United States through its INCSR Vol. II of 2008. It has also been recognized as an offshore center.
Regarding the understanding of the legislative framework behind the licensing process, it has been expressed that Mohlei has its own Anti Money Laundering Law but it may have serious shortcomings and there may be a lack of resources to enforce it. As of 2008, the existence of the International Bank Act of 2001 and the International Companies Act of 2001 is also known. As of 2010, it was also reported that Moheli and Anjouan may no longer be issuing banking licenses to offshore entities.
No information was available from any third party about the status of the legislation posted on the MISA website. Further, no information was available from any third party about the genuineness of the claims made by MISA and MCSL about their authority to issue the banking licenses based on the legislation that they have cited.
Licensing through MISA and MCSL
From 01 January 2013 has entered a new Banking Act 2013. The purpose of this Act is to foment the development of the Island as a responsible international financial center complying with global best practice and regulatory standards and to provide incentives by way of tax exemptions for international banking business carried on from the island.
Obtaining a financial services license from MISA through MCSL is an activity that must be undertaken with caution. There is no independent information available to verify the status of these entities although there is limited information as stated above, which suggests that the island of Mwali may have tried to build a financial services industry based on an external services provider.