Central Asia

Shariah compliant: EFU insurance moves onto Takaful business

Pakistan’s second largest life insurance company informed members of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Friday that it intends to enter the window Takaful business. The board of directors of EFU Life Assurance has approved changes in its memorandum of association under Takaful Rules 2012 to launch Takaful. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) replaced Takaful Rules 2005 with Takaful 2012 two years ago, which allowed conventional insurance companies to set up Islamic windows to conduct shariah-compliant business. EFU Life Assurance is not the only company that has shown interest in setting up Islamic window operations. Jubilee Life, the largest player in the life segment in terms of gross premiums, is also eyeing the Shariah-compliant business after the implementation of Takaful Rules 2012.

Mufti Muhammad Hassaan Kaleem joins Dubai Islamic Bank as Sharia head

Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan (DIBPL) has appointed Mufti Muhammad Hassaan Kaleem as the Bank’s new country Head of Shari’a. Mufti Hassaan has also been appointed a member of the Bank’s Shari’a Board by the Board of Directors of DIBPL, subject to approval of State Bank of Pakistan. Mufti Hassaan has vast experience in matters of Shari’a teachings and advisory and has been teaching various courses in Islamic Studies and Arabic at Darl-ul-Uloom Karachi for the last 17 years. He is a member of several institutions and boards, including Dar-ul-Ifta, JamiaDarul-ul-Uloom Karachi, Chairman Shari’a Board of Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and others.

Pakistan central bank plan to boost Islamic banking

State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) five-year strategic plan will drive strong asset growth in the Islamic finance sector, given the high domestic demand for Islamic banking. SBP’s plan targets a 15 per cent share of banking system assets for the sector by 2018, up from around 10 per cent as of December 2013. The National Bank of Pakistan will convert around 6 per cent of conventional branches into Islamic-banking branches over the next two years. Although the sector is expanding rapidly, the Islamic operations of the top five banks — National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank, MCB Bank, Allied Bank, and United Bank are small and currently account for less than 2 per cent of their assets on average. Moreover, rapid growth in the sector is likely to weaken asset quality.

EFU to launch shariah-compliant products

EFU insurance group will offer shariah-compliant insurance products in Pakistan through its general and life units. Both EFU Life Assurance and EFU General Insurance plan to open takaful windows. The plans come two months after regulators cleared the way for conventional firms to offer Islamic products, part of regulatory effort to increase insurance penetration in Pakistan. EFU General had Rs13.9 billion ($140.8 million) in written premiums in 2013, representing roughly a quarter of the industry’s total. EFU Life has a branch network of over 150 branches around the country. A source at one of the units said the takaful windows could be operational in two to three months.

Pakistan's EFU insurance group to launch sharia-compliant products

EFU Life Assurance and EFU General Insurance, Pakistan's largest private insurance group, will offer sharia-compliant insurance products through takaful windows. The plans come two months after regulators cleared the way for conventional firms to offer Islamic products, part of regulatory effort to increase insurance penetration in Pakistan. Company officials declined to comment on their plans but a source at one of the units said the takaful windows could be operational in two to three months. The Securities Commission had earlier said it had received five applications for takaful windows and expected as many as half of all conventional insurers in Pakistan to eventually apply for a licence.

ICD hoping to advise on $1bn Pakistan sukuk

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) hopes to advise on the mandate for Pakistan's $1 billion Islamic bond. ICD and Karachi-based Burj Bank, 33.9 per cent owned by ICD, have applied to be advisers on the sovereign deal, meeting Pakistan's finance ministry earlier this week. A ministry statement also said that it would review the applications starting next week. The ICD has further initiatives in the pipeline. Among others, ICD signed separate agreements to help develop Islamic leasing businesses in Malaysia and Uzbekistan, as well as extending $5 million in financing to support SME lending in the former soviet state.

Pakistan to sell Islamic bons worth 49.5 billion rupees

Pakistan's central bank will sell 49.5 billion rupees ($503.8 million) of Islamic bonds, the country's first such issuance in 15 months, with pricing to be set on Wednesday. The sukuk will inject a much-needed liquidity management tool for the domestic Islamic banking industry. The appetite for local currency sukuk has grown with Islamic banks posting double-digit asset growth, but the government has been unable to match demand, constraining the sector's financing and investment capability. The government has not indicated whether it would issue more local currency sukuk this year, although the finance ministry has said it was considering issuing dollar-denominated sukuk.

Ziraat Bank eyes on Islamic Bank

State-owned Ziraat Bank has interest in buying the Islamic bank Bank Asya. Yet nothing is official just now, according to Ziraat Bank, a state owned bank. The move would allow Ziraat to enter the Islamic banking market. The Turkish government would also like to change the banks’ capital structure that is controlled by Gülen supporters. Bank Asya has been the subject of focus since the Turkish media reported that state-owned companies and institutional depositors loyal to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an had withdrawn around 4 billion Turkish Liras in the wake of the Dec. 17, 2013, graft probe.

Sharia trial of Iranian billionaire:

An Iranian trial and execution raised questions about corruption at high levels in various countries. Reports said that Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, a billionaire businessman was executed in a prison, North of Tehran for being involved in a $2.6 billion state bank scam, the largest fraud case since 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The public in America, Britain and other European countries reacted with surprisingly many comments on social media platform. They wish such a harsh punishment for their nations in order to deal with corruption amongst politician and businessmen.

19th AGN of Social Islami Bank Limited

The 19th Annual General Meeting of Social Islami Bank Limited was held in Sylhet, Bangladesh. A 12% cash dividend for the financial year 2013 was approved by the shareholders in the AGM. Major (Retd.) Dr. Md. Rezaul Haque, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank presided over the meeting. Directors of the Bank were present. The Managing Director of the Bank Md. Shafiqur Rahman stated that SIBL maintained and achieved a stable position in 2013 despite of many challenges in all of their key areas of operations.

Bangladesh Islamic finance sector: Sukuk the missing link

Bangladesh Islamic finance industry is well developed but lacks sharia-compliant instruments such as sukuk. This is limiting further growth of the sector according to a report. Sukuk would be helpfull to diversify the funding sources and could make up for the limited scope of the Islamic money market in Bangladesh. Islamic banks that follow religious principles are now representing 18.9 percent of all Bangladeshi bank deposits.

IBBL approves dividend of 18pc

The Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited approved 18pc dividend comprising 10pc stock and 8pc cash for the Shareholders for the year 2013. This was announced in its 31st Annual General Meeting, according to a news agency. Further in the meeting, four directors were elected. The AGM was held at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre. Prof. Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher, Chairman of the Bank presided over the meeting. The Shariah Supervisory Committee along with shareholders and high executives of the Bank were also present at the AGM.

Seminar on the Prospects and Challenges in the Development of Islamic Finance for Kazakhstan

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is organising a Seminar on Islamic Finance in Kazakhstan with the theme, "Prospects and Challenges in the Development of Islamic Finance for Kazakhstan" on 16 June 2014 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The National Bank of Kazakhstan will host the Seminar on Islamic finance as well as the IFSB Facilitating the Implementation of Standards (FIS) Workshop Series for Banking and Takaful on 17 - 19 June 2014. The one-day Seminar will cover the following topics: Islamic Finance for Central Asia: Growth with Stability - Regulatory Issues and Key Preconditions; The Role of Sukuk: Infrastructure Financing, Capital Market Instruments and High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA); Panel Discussion on the Way forward for the Development of Islamic Finance for Kazakhstan.

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Iran hangs man convicted of $2.6 billion bank scam

Iranian businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, convicted of masterminding a $2.6 billion banking scam, was hanged on Saturday in Tehran''s Evin prison. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of corruption on earth through bribery and money laundering. Revelations about the scandal swept Iran in 2011 when prosecutors uncovered a private umbrella group, led by Amir Khosravi and his brothers. Over the space of two years, Amir Mansour Aria Development Co bought 40 companies with forged letters of credit obtained from several major banks whose managers they had bribed. In addition to Amir Khosravi, three others have reportedly been sentenced to death.

Pakistan insurers agree with regulator to allow takaful windows

A legal dispute between Pakistani insurance firms and regulators has been resolved after the country's five takaful firms had challenged the new takaful rules introduced in 2012. Under the agreement, insurers will have to allocate 50 million rupees ($506,100) in capital to their window operations, from no capitalisation requirement in the original rules. The takaful rules will be applicable after a three-month period and the regulator would also amend them to allow takaful firms to co-insure risks alongside conventional players, which the initial rules had forbidden. Takaful's share of the total insurance market is estimated at less than 3 percent. The regulator has now received five applications for takaful windows and expects as many as half of all conventional insurers to eventually apply for a licence.

14 Iranian banks involved in $3-billion embezzlement case

14 Iranian banks are involved in the famous 2011 $3-billion embezzlement case. Iran's prosecutor general Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said that state-run Bank Saderat and Bank Melli were the main banks involved in the case. The prosecutor general went on to say that seven MPs who were accused of involvement in the case acquitted due to lack of evidences. Thirty-nine persons were accused of involvement in the case, and several high-ranking officials including certain persons in judiciary, parliament and presidential administration were persecuted or arrested. In addition to death and life sentences, some defendants banned from government jobs.

Worldwide study shows religious investors can ally faith and finance

Religious investors, in economic terms the third largest group to invest on the world’s stock markets, can post high placement profits and remain faithful to their religious creed. This is the message of the third biennial world report on religious investors, the only report of its kind.

The report highlights the profile of religious investors who respect this balance and thus can have a major influence on company ethics:
- Their principles of faith can serve as a road map for investment choices;
- By nature, these investors have a long-term view which is key to the notion of responsible investment;
- They can call on the support of what is often a worldwide community;
- They have set up networks that offer the chance to work together on stakeholder actions and therefore increase their impact.

Even though a certain number of religious organisations invest responsibly and use their role as shareholder-activists to promote change this sort of profile is far from the majority.

Islamic Development Bank approves $671 million project funding

The Islamic Development Bank's (IDB) Board of Executive Directors has approved new fundings totalling $670.9 million for development projects in member and non-member countries. The Executive Directors approved $312.8 million to finance electricity projects in Egypt and Senegal; $110 million to fund the development of a major road in Uganda; $48 million to fund pearl preservation and economic revival projects in Bahrain; $44 million for an underwater communications cable in Bangladesh; and $12.4 million to finance fish farms in Mozambique. Moreover, the executive directors gave their approval for four donations for Muslim communities in non-member Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, India and Thailand while funds will also be channelled into development projects in Africa.

Pakistan, DIB discuss sukuk

Pakistan's Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with officials from Dubai Islamic Bank ( DIB ) in Dubai where they discussed prospects of another sukuk issuance and hiring an advisor for transparent sukuk transaction. Following the success of Euro Bond wherein Pakistan raised $2 billion from capital market recently, the minister said government intends to tap the sukuk market to increase its foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan plans to sell $1 billion dollar-denominated sukuk which will be marketed at the end of the third or in the fourth quarter of 2014. Dar said Pakistan government would soon release an advertisement in international and local press to hire financial advisor for sukuk transaction through a transparent and competitive process.

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