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UBF launches handbook on financial literacy

UAE Banks Federation (UBF) launched its handbook 'Financial Literacy for Individuals'. Financial experts have often noted that consumer debt has been piling up, resulting primarily from a lack of financial knowledge. The 'Financial Literacy for Individuals' handbook highlights various aspects of borrowing, saving and the ways to manage debt efficiently. It highlights the benefits of investment, including financial security, wealth generation, financial preparedness for emergencies, as well as accomplishment of financial objectives. It also introduces the key investment products such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Ibn Sina washes its hands of Islami Bank

Ibn Sina Trust is set to sell off its entire 2.24% stake in Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) within the next 30 days. Ibn Sina's exit from the country's biggest private lender comes a few days after the resignation of Chairman Arastoo Khan. The former secretary stepped down on April 17 and was replaced by Md Nazmul Hasan, a professor of the University of Dhaka. Ibn Sina left the bank's board on January 5 this year after a huge reshuffle. Last year, the Islamic Development Bank, one of the foreign investors of IBBL, sold two-thirds of its shares, bringing its stake in the bank down to 2% from 7.5%. In 2014, foreign sponsor-shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all of its shares and Dubai Islamic Bank followed suit in 2015.

Board of Directors of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation in Dubai Approves 2018-2020 Strategic Plan

Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation’s (AMAF) new strategic plan for 2018–2020 has been approved by its Board of Directors. The strategic plan covers 18 main objectives that collectively aim to achieve AMAF’s mission and expand the number of people benefiting from its charity work. The objectives are also aligned with the pillars of Dubai Plan 2021 and the emirate’s Smart Government goals. AMAF Secretary General Ali Al Mutawa said the new strategic plan would implement several initiatives to realize the foundation's primary goal of providing care to minors, protecting and investing their finances, growing endowments, and encouraging society to engage in charity.

SEDCO Holding Group Signs a Partnership Agreement with Saudi British Bank

SEDCO Holding Group signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi British Bank (SABB), for its Riyali Financial Literacy Program. The agreement was signed by Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, and Naif Alabdulkareem, General Manager Retail Banking at SABB. The Riyali Financial Literacy Program attained the Ministry of Education’s endorsement to roll out the program in grade school as well as universities. The program aims to educate future generations on the importance and benefits of financial awareness. The program has already reached more than 400,000 beneficiaries and aims to reach 2 million beneficiaries by 2020.

More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

More than 70 countries committed to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing. Participants at an international conference in Paris vowed to improve international coordination and enhance transparency of financial flows. The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term. Experts attending the conference noted terror groups are using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations. They called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.

Ibn Sina Trust to sell off all Islami Bank shares, worth nearly Tk100cr

Ten days after losing its chairman, Islami Bank Bangladesh is preparing to lose one of its biggest sponsor shareholders. Ibn Sina Trust announced its intention to withdraw by the end of next month. The Ibn Sina Trust is the largest local corporate shareholder in Islami Bank. Its 36,077,391 shares are worth around Tk94.16 crore. A year ago, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) sold off two-thirds of its shares, shrinking its stake in the bank to 2.1% from 7.5%. Two other foreign banks have sold out from Islami Bank in recent years. In 2014, foreign sponsor shareholder Bahrain Islamic Bank sold off all its shares, followed by Dubai Islamic Bank, which sold all its shares in 2015. Islami Bank has always had the reputation of being influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamist political organization noted for its connection with the local collaborators of Pakistan occupation forces during the Liberation War in 1971.

Islamic bank retrieves $170 million as it uncovers internal fraud

Abu Dhabi's Al Hilal Bank has uncovered internal fraud worth more than 600 million dirhams ($163 million). The case is now before the courts and includes several bank employees. A total of 38 bank employees from Asian and European backgrounds were arrested last summer, but the name of the bank was not disclosed then. Police and the central bank have been able to retrieve 625 million dirhams of the money taken. Employees allegedly withdrew funds from dormant customer accounts. Money was then transferred from the Al Hilal accounts to bogus accounts before being withdrawn. Al Hilal is a state-owned Islamic lender with total assets worth 42.7 billion dirhams.

Source: 

http://www.globallegalpost.com/big-stories/islamic-bank-retrieves-$170-million-as-it-uncovers-internal-fraud-17248478/

AXA partners with Cobalt Underwriting for Sharia-compliant policy

AXA Insurance has teamed up with Cobalt Underwriting to create a new Shariah-compliant insurance product for the real estate sector. As part of the partnership, AXA directly manages the trading and underwriting of the product. Cobalt employs in-house Shariah scholars who provide each client with Shariah compliance certification. The new product is part of AXA’s wider strategy to bring new products to under-served sections of the insurance market. Ryan Birbeck, head of real estate specialty at AXA Insurance, said that the addition of a Shariah-compliant insurance policy was an obvious move as overseas investment continues to flow into the UK real estate sector.

Bidaya’s first #Sukuk issuance successful

Bidaya Home Finance has successfully closed its inaugural Sukuk issuance under the recently established SR500 Million Sukuk Issuance Programme. The total amount raised in relation to the Series 1 Sukuk was SR250 Million. Bidaya's CEO Mazin Al Ghunaim said this was a landmark transaction since Bidaya was the first housing finance company in Saudi Arabia to issue a Sukuk. Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia acted as the Arranger with respect to the Sukuk Programme issuance, while Albilad Capital acted as the Dealer. Bidaya's Sukuk Programme is aimed at maximizing the utilization of capital markets, resulting in the diversification of the company's funding sources.

Lack of scale, lower returns in Islamic finance need addressing

According to Sultan Nazrin, Islamic finance needs to address the lack of scale, volatility in Islamic equity markets and lower returns for Islamic investing. In his keynote speech at the Franklin Templeton 2018 Islamic Forum in Kuala Lumpur, he highlighted four key areas that need to be addressed. While the overall sukuk market has posted growth in recent years, the resilience of Islamic equities and funds cannot be taken for granted as most of them lack scale. Another issue to be addressed is the greater volatility seen lately in global Islamic-listed equity markets. Sultan Nazrin said that an unparalleled benchmark for governance must be established that balances financial and ethical considerations. He added that innovation represents a challenge and an opportunity for the industry, thus Islamic finance must embrace the modern era of disruption, with a continued strong focus on product innovation.

#Malaysia should look beyond ringgit to draw Chinese to #sukuk market

Malaysia is one of the largest markets for Islamic finance. According to Mohieddine Kronfol, chief investment officer at Franklin Templeton Investments, Malaysia's sukuk market could attract Chinese companies if there were more foreign currency-denominated issues. He said Malaysia has attracted foreign companies to issue sukuk, but they were predominantly in ringgit and largely domestically bought.Mohieddine said there should be more transactions in international currencies like the U.S. dollar, and a currency regime or some central bank support that facilitates that. Franklin Templeton Investments projects global sukuk growth at 15-20% this year on the back of stable oil prices, better growth outlook in markets that issue sukuks and sustained demand for Islamic finance.

#Qatar bank #merger said to stall over price dispute

Talks to merge three Qatari banks have hit a roadblock as shareholders disagree on price. The three banks include Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar. Discussions are currently on hold and it’s not clear if the deal will be revived. Qatar started talks in December 2016 to create the country’s largest Shariah-compliant bank and the Middle East’s third-biggest Islamic lender with more than 178 billion riyals ($49 billion) of assets. According to Sanyalak Manibhandu, equities analyst at FAB Securities, the delay is bad news because the three banks combined would be able to compete better in the Qatar market. The merger would also provide opportunities to extract synergies from saving overheads, direct costs and investing in digitization.

Islamic banks’ financial profile to stabilise in ’18

According to S&P Global Ratings, the GCC Islamic banks’ financing growth will reach 4-5% in 2018-19, supported by strategic initiatives by the regional governments. Powered by Qatar FIFA World Cup, Dubai Expo 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030, and higher government spending in Kuwait led by Kuwait 2035 Vision, the region’s Islamic banks will continue to expand. Asset growth should remain in the low single digits due to slow economic growth, unless oil prices rebound significantly. However, Islamic banks’ cost of risk will increase due to the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) 9 and Financial Accounting Standards (FAS) 30. While the volume of sukuk issuance increased in 2017 thanks to jumbo issuances by some GCC countries, issuance volume is currently uncertain for 2018.

SECP registers Al Hilal as first Shariah advisory company in #Pakistan

The Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has registered Al Hilal Shariah Advisors as the first Shariah Advisory company in Pakistan. Al Hilal aims at converting the conventional interest-based economy to the Islamic financial system under the guidance of Shariah Scholars and financial experts. Al Hilal Shariah Advisors provides Shariah Advisory, Shariah audit and training services in the field of Islamic Finance. It is also active in the field of halal food certification. Al Hilal CFA Faraz Younus Bandukda said they were proud to be the first Shariah Advisory Company in Pakistan and hopeful that more companies would now implement Shariah regulations.

Cryptocurrency Infused Islamic #Microfinance Fund Launches in Central Java

Blossom Finance announced the open enrollment for an Islamic microfinance fund that will accept multiple cryptocurrencies. Investors will focus on socially responsible opportunities and receive profit sharing from Blossom’s network of microfinance partners in the province of Central Java, Indonesia. Blossom has partnered with PBMT Ventura, an Indonesian Islamic microfinance firm. The funds raised will be utilized to bolster micro-businesses and traditional market sellers to meet the increased demand during the upcoming Ramadan holiday. In order to participate, investors will have the option to invest with Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH) or USD.

#Saudi issues new Islamic bond to finance budget

Saudi Arabia has completed the issuance of a new sukuk sale to help finance its budget deficit. The Kingdom raised $1.3 billion from the sale of sukuks in three tranches maturing in five, seven and 10 years. This was the second sukuk sale this year following a $4.8-billion issue it completed last month. The government debt level, both domestic and international, rose from 1.6% of gross domestic product in 2014 to 17.3 of GDP last year reaching $118 billion. During the same period, the government has drawn down some $245 billion from its fiscal reserves. Oil income made up more than 90% of public revenues before oil began to slide.

Islamic Equity Class Should Explore Solutions To Stay Competitive - Sultan Nazrin

According to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, the Islamic equity asset class needs to explore solutions and achieve critical mass volume in order to remain competitive. He delivered his keynote speech at the Franklin Templeton Investments 2018 Islamic Forum in Kuala Lumpur. He believes that Islamic finance must embrace the era of disruptive innovation, with a continued strong focus on product innovation. The global asset management landscape had been pushed to embrace new online investment platforms and failure to keep up with these changing structural dynamics could put the industry at an even greater disadvantage than at present. He said that Islamic investors could also capitalise on the emerging "green" or environmentally-friendly finance.

Al Salam Bank names group chief executive

Al Salam Bank-Bahrain (ASBB) has appointed Rafik Nayed as chief executive of the group following regulatory approvals. According to ASBB chairman Khaleefa Butti Al Muhairi, Rafik Nayed has a proven international track record in banking and finance as well as the necessary expertise needed for this position.

Dubai launches Sharia compliant #crypto assets backed with diamonds

Dubai's Al Kasir Group and Sheikh Ahmed bin Obaid Al Maktoum have jointly initiated the launch of a new crypto asset backed with diamonds. The crypto assets can be redeemed for diamonds of the same amount. Amit Lakhanpal, the founder of Al Kasir Group said this venture offers the convenience of a digital currency with the stability of a traditional asset. The name of the crypto assets unveiled at the event were Al Mas, Al Haqeek and Al Falah. Al Haqeek can be redeemed against precious gems. Al Falah can be redeemed against perfumes. The company plans to open 1,000 physical stores for customers across Gulf, South East Asia, Europe and UK. The crypto assets could be purchased over the counter.

One cryptocurrency thinks it is Sharia-compliant, but for Muslim investors the blockchain still has pitfalls

OneGram claims to comply with Islamic finance requirements with its gold-backed, Sharia-compliant digital coin. Muslim countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates issued warnings against the use of alternative digital currencies. Islamic jurists in South Africa have ruled in favour of cryptocurrencies, arguing that they have become socially acceptable and commonly used. According to Max Vehmeyer, client relations manager at Kagiso Asset Management, the compliance of cryptocurrencies with Sharia law is still a grey area. This is partly because cryptocurrencies have inherent risks of fraud and cheating because of a lack of regulation, which is not in line with Islamic commercial jurisprudence. Vehmeyer says the introduction of a virtual currency like OneGram limits speculation to some degree.

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