These last few days Paradise has been rocked by scandals at the highest levels of society.
The first, on 6 February, has been the arrest of the ex-Prime Minister on suspicion of conspiracy and money laundering. A search of his home revealed two safes and two suitcases full of cash notes in various currencies, MUR, USD, EURO for a total amount of MUR 220 million.
On Friday 13th February the ex-Governor of the National Bank of Mauritius (BoM) was arrested for theft and money laundering. A search of his home had revealed MUR 1 million in various foreign currencies as well as confidential documents belonging to the BoM.
Investigation is ongoing at the time of writing so no conclusion or guilt can be determined at this stage. However, quite apart from the criminal law aspects let us consider the morality side of the story.
220 million Mauritian Rupees (approx. USD 6,596,702 or EUR 5,791,666 or GBP 4,283,990). That is a huge amount of cash notes in a private home. When you consider that many workers in this country are taking home a monthly pay packet which is very near the poverty threshold of MUR 6,000 (approx. USD 180 or GBP 117 or EUR 158) the huge sums hoarded in a private home is totally immoral.
Why immoral because the origin of those millions are probably contributions from the private sector for the election campaign. The foreign currencies would suggest commissions probably for signing of commercial contracts.
The private sector here contributes very little to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We usually see relatively small amounts of money contributed to Associations or NGOs working in social fields. To see millions contributed as gifts to political parties is just sickening and immoral. There are still pockets of extreme poverty on the island. There are many areas of development that could benefit from extra cash such as housing, education, job training and health.
The scandals have unveiled an irresponsible social corporate responsibility. Companies or corporations prefer to dish-out what can be termed as bribes to political parties in return for favours rather than invest profits in the more vulnerable social sectors.
We live in a sick society where a handful of people spend their energies and intellect at money-grabbing and power-mongering at the same time keeping-up appearances of honesty and benevolence with their false public smiles.