Central Asia

Will #Iran’s banking sector collapse?

Financial experts are warning that Iran’s banking sector is at risk of a collapse due to toxic assets. It is no secret that over the past decade all Iranian banks were negatively affected by sanctions, internal mismanagement and corruption. Another disturbing factor in the financial sector has been the presence of unlicensed financial institutions. Government interference has led to the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars of bad debts that will continue to put pressure on the balance sheets of Iranian banks for some time to come. Besides the high ratio of nonperforming loans, Iranian banks have a high portion of overvalued and illiquid assets on their balance sheets that need to be adjusted. Now several Iranian banks are following government instructions and have started to sell their noncore assets. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will have no choice but to push for bank mergers and also to impose and implement tough regulations on the country’s banks in order to prevent a deeper crisis.

Three major banks are up for sale. Who will buy them?

For the first time in #Pakistani history, three perfectly healthy and viable banks are simultaneously up for sale. They are Bank Alfalah (BAFL), Meezan Bank (MEBL), and Faysal Bank (FABL). The Gulf Arab investors who initially put up the capital to create these banks have held their positions profitably for decades and are now looking for a suitable exit opportunity. The potential foreign acquirers of these banks would be the most interesting ones, since they are likely to be large foreign financial institutions, extending their presence into the Pakistani market. The most interested potential acquirers, however, are the domestic players, only some of whom have a history of previously owning and operating financial institutions.

Sharia #standards notified

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified seven more Sharia standards of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). The general public is kindly asked to give their feedback for the adoption of these standards and bring harmonisation and standardisation in the business practices of Islamic financial institutions.

Coincidental documents reveal Iranian Guard smuggled billions via Bahraini bank

Iranian owners of a Bahraini bank complained about Bahrain to an international arbitration court in the Netherlands. Bahrain responded with documents proving that $7 billion was smuggled through suspicious accounts with the consent and knowledge of the bank’s management. Future Bank was closed in 2015, but documents prove Iran’s secret assistance in evading international sanctions and smuggling billions of dollars over more than a decade. Bahraini officials criticized Future Bank for allowing the cleric Isa Qassim to make cash deposits totaling millions of dollars over several years, and directing some of the money to a charity linked to terrorism. Audits revealed then that in hundreds of cases, bank transfers were accompanied by specific instructions to avoid references to Iran or Iranian banking codes.

Call for Good Practices on Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Activities

Click here to apply http://bit.ly/2tN5RAZ

Purpose of this call is to invite private and public sector to share their good practices on
•Islamic finance funded impact investments and dedicated vehicles
•impact investment vehicles in the OIC region
•Islamic social finance vehicles

for the mapping study that is being carried out under the Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP). The selected cases will be analysed by the research team managed by IICPSD and IRTI. Subsequently the good practices, information on vehicles and further findings will be published as part of the study.

Investment Focus

Govt plans ministry’s division for Islamic finance industry

The Pakistani government is mulling a dedicated division at the finance ministry to deal with Islamic finance. The Prime Minister's Finance adviser, Miftah Ismail said the committee would be set up for the promotion of Islamic banking in Pakistan. He also said that the country is set to achieve a six percent economic growth in the current fiscal year. Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said Islamic finance industry needs to expand its product menu with special focus to reach out to the unserved sectors and regions. Ahmad said development of all components of Islamic finance industry is imperative to achieve inclusive economic development.

Spearheading innovation in Islamic banking

In this interview, Zahid Parekh, General Manager of Habib Bank Limited (HBL), speaks about the evolution and future of Islamic banking. In his view, Islamic banking has evolved as a natural phenomenon in Pakistan. HBL's initial focus was to bring in the faith-based customers and as a second step, to target the sceptics through personalised awareness campaigns. These initiatives have made a difference in changing mindsets and expanding the customer base. HBL has a wide banking portfolio and is looking to introduce a new Shariah-compliant mortgage solution in the forthcoming months. HBL has been a frontrunner in FinTech, it established the Innovation and Financial Inclusion Department almost two years ago, with the sole purpose of digitising banking processes. The concept of FinTech is still new in Pakistan, but Parekh believes it will be a game-changer not only for the Islamic banking sector, but for the overall banking sector as well.

DIEDC to collaborate with #Turkmenistan bank

The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Turkmenistan (TFEB) to exchange knowledge, experience and best practices in Islamic economy. The MoU was signed by Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy and chairman of DIEDC, and Rahimberdy J. Jepbarov, chairman of TFEB. The centre aims to organise workshops and training courses and share professional research. In addition, the two parties have set up a joint committee to oversee the collaboration. Al Mansouri said this partnership between DIEDC and TFEB would strengthen synergies between the two countries. He further highlighted sukuk as an effective tool to finance projects in infrastructure, education and health care, as well as in other vital sectors of the economy.

#Kazakhstan eyes sovereign #Sukuk, central Sharia board

Kazakhstan plans to issue sukuk in the coming months as part of its efforts to develop Islamic finance in the country. Alibek Nurbekov, head of the Islamic finance at the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), said the final legislative changes to allow issuance of sovereign sukuk were nearly complete. Issuance of sovereign sukuk is planned in the first half of 2018 in total up to $300 million dollars. The sale would follow sukuk issued by the Development Bank of Kazakhstan in 2012, a deal that raised 240 million ringgit ($61.51 million) via the Malaysian market. Nurbekov added that a central sharia board would be established in the first half of the year, while rules covering Islamic insurers and a fund for Islamic endowments are also planned.

New Form of Islamic Bond Makes Debut at Iran Fara Bourse

The Iranian government issued 30 trillion rials (about $670 million) worth of Manfa’ah sukuk at the over-the-counter exchange Iran Fara Bourse. The 42-month bonds, bearing a maximum of 20.1% annual interest, will be backed by 51 trillion rials ($1.13 billion) of government revenues. Each Manfa’ah sukuk is priced at 1 million rials ($22.2).

NAB arrests Modaraba corruption case accused

#Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested Yasir Aziz accused in a Modaraba corruption case. The accused acted as finance secretary of M/S Elixir Group and signed the modaraba contracts issued by his brother Shahid Aziz. The public accuses Yasir Aziz of taking the investment and aiding his brother to misappropriate the money. Yasir Aziz also tried to sell the properties owned by the accused Shahid Aziz. NAB Director General Irfan Naeem Mangi confirmed that Yasir Aziz was arrested and assured that the NAB was committed to eradicate corruption from the country.

Ahmed Shuja Kidwai appointed CEO Al Baraka Bank

Ahmed Shuja Kidwai has been appointed as the new CEO of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan). Kidwai replaces Shafqaat Ahmed, who led the bank for 25 years. Al Baraka Chairman Khalid Rashid Al Zayani thanked Shafqaat wishing him well in his future life and welcomed Ahmed Shuja Kidwai as the new Chief Executive Officer of the bank. Ahmed Shuja Kidwai has a diversified international banking experience of over forty years, he played a pivotal role in consolidating and establishing the bank's position especially in Karachi.

Draft Sharia rules for companies notified

The Securi­ties and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has notified draft Sharia Governance Regulations 2018. The regulations concern Sharia-compliant companies and entities including the Sharia-compliant securities and Islamic financial institutions. The regulations are the first-ever holistic Sharia governance framework introduced by the corporate sector regulator. Considering the need for an extensive framework, IFD conducted consultation sessions with Sharia advisors, State Bank, Pakistan Stock Exchange, Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan, takaful companies, modaraba and NBFI Association. The regulations are now open to public consultation and stakeholders have the opportunity to share their comments and suggestions within two weeks.

#Kazakhstan getting closer to implementing Islamic finance

Kazakhstan will host a meeting on the implementation of Islamic finance on March 5. The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) is organizing the event to discuss the development of Islamic finance with the further release of sukuk in Kazakhstan. The list of participants includes the regional manager of the ICD Samir Tagiyev, the representative of the Entrepreneurship Development Fund "Damu" Rustem Ismailov, the chairman of the Islamic Finance Development Association (ARIF) Timur Rustemov, along issuers and investors of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange. The parties will also consider the ARIF projects on Islamic financing in Kazakhstan, as well as the possibility of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange functioning as a platform for the development of Islamic finance.

#Iran developing national #cryptocurrency to bypass US sanctions

Iran has revealed that one of the country’s banks is working on a state-backed virtual currency. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted he had proposed to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency. Iran is still mostly cut off from major international payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard and services such as PayPal. The announcement on its crypto project follows Venezuela’s launch of the world’s first national digital currency the 'petro'. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the oil-backed cryptocurrency has raised the equivalent of more than $735 million. After the successful pre-sale of the petro last week, Maduro announced a new virtual token, dubbed 'petro oro', which will be backed by precious metals.

#Iran May Follow #Venezuela In Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency

Iran has announced its intent to establish a national cryptocurrency. Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, head of Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, posted in a Tweet that a test model for a cloud-based digital currency is being developed. The announcement comes after Venezuela's oil-backed "petro" cryptocurrency launch earlier this week. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims that the cryptocurrency has raised over $700 million. There are fears that the rise of state-backed cryptocurrencies could challenge international efforts to regulate financial transactions and impose sanctions. The three countries most interested in the technology, Iran, Venezuela and Russia, are all targeted by U.S. sanctions.

SECP introduces auditing #standards for Islamic finance sector

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) introduced three new international auditing and accounting standards. According to the commission, the AAOIFI (Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions) shariah standards have been notified after a thorough consultative process. The adopted standards include Shariah Standard No 17-Investment Sukuk, Shariah Standard No 18-Possession (Qabd) as well as Shariah Standard No 23-Agency and the Act of an un-commissioned agent (Fodooli). The commission said it has been playing a proactive role in providing an enabling regulatory environment for the growth of Islamic finance in the country.

Long-term Islamic financing facility launched

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched the Islamic Long- Term Financing Facility (ILTFF) based on Modaraba for exporters with a maximum limit of Rs1.5 billion. The central bank currently provides the Long Term Financing Facility (LTFF) through conventional banks. The ILTFF will allow exporters an opportunity to avail long-term refinance facility of SBP for purchase of new machinery from eligible Islamic banks. The period of financing under the ILTFF will not exceed more than ten years including a grace period of maximum two years. Islamic banks and Islamic banking branches of conventional banks may also apply to SBP. The allocation is subject to a maximum of 20pc of the limit under LTFF for utilisation under ILTFF. The State Bank’s move would support both the Islamic banking as well as exporters who achieved a positive growth after five years.

#Pakistan's Meezan Bank plans capital-boosting #sukuk

Meezan Bank aims to raise up to 7 billion rupees ($63.34 million) through a Tier 1 sukuk issuance. It could be sold either as a public offering or private placement. The bank did not give a time frame for the sale. Meezan had sold Tier 2 sukuk in 2016, raising 7 billion rupees through a 10-year private placement that used a mudaraba contract. There are five full-fledged Islamic banks and 16 Islamic windows in Pakistan, Meezan Bank being the country's largest sharia-compliant lender. The Islamic banking sector held 11.9% of the country’s total banking assets as of September.

Rs 7 billion #Sukuk launched by PSL

The Hashoo Group announced the issuance of rated, secured, long-term, privately placed Sukuk of Rs 7 billion by Pakistan Services Limited (PSL). PSL will utilize the Sukuk funds for construction and capital expenditure of new hotels and mixed-use developments in the cities of Multan, Faisalabad, Mirpur Azad Jammu Kashmir, Hayatabad Peshawar, Malam Jaba, Skardu and Gwadar. These properties are expected to open in 2018 and 2019. Present at the signing ceremony event was Murtaza Hashwani, Group Deputy Chairman & CEO, along with senior representatives of Hashoo Group, Yousaf Hussain, President & CEO of Faysal Bank, Fawaz Valiaani, CEO of Elixir Securities Pakistan and Basir Shamsie, Deputy CEO of JS Bank. Murtaza Hashwani said that the focus of Hashoo Group has always been growth of the hospitality industry, inbound tourism and the business events & conferences market in Pakistan. He further added that he was very positive about the future of Pakistan and of the of Hashoo Group.

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