Environment, Social, Governance

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How to balance form and substance - the role of Sharia Scholars

Dear Reader,

Many times I read, and on all conferences we debate on the issue of form over substance - is their a simple solution?

Let's revisit:

Form over substance means that contemporary Islamic finance takes more emphasize on the form of the contracts (in their Arabic terminology like Murabaha, Musharaka etc.) as in their substance, especially their economic substance, which often looks the same after conducting a sequence of Arabic named contracts.

Scholars have to judge the appearance of the form, meaning the contracts in front of them. A judge shall not guess the intentions of the contractual parties but typically has to rely on the text itself to come a decision. Different schools of Islamic law have different degrees on reliance on the form and considering or rejecting to assume 'intentions' . The hesitance to guess about 'intentions' is based on the fear to commit injustice to the parties and a procedural cause to get evidence about them.

New Islamic Finance Tax Instructions in France

France has now a tax neutrality regime in place for facilitating Islamic financial products including Islamic bonds and certificates; cost-plus-financing; leasing and construction industry forward financing.

The measures were passed at end July 2010 but were published in the Bulletin Officiel des Impôts n° 78 on Aug. 24. They supersede the instructions published by the French government on Febr. 25, 2009, relating to sukuk and Murabaha transactions only.

The text in original can be found here: http://www11.minefi.gouv.fr/boi/boi2010/cadliste.htm

Over 90 percent HNWIs in the GCC don’t want retirement: Report

With high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the GCC are seen as the most active in management their wealth during later life, over 90 percent reject the idea of getting retire, according to Barclays Wealth latest Insights report.
The report titled The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement is the twelfth in the Barclays Wealth Insights series, shows that HNWIs in Saudi Arabia (92 percent), United Arab Emirates (91 percent) and Qatar (89 percent) illustrated the biggest desire amongst global respondents to keep working in later life. According to the findings of the report the retirement is being rejected by a new breed of wealthy worker, who want to carry on working for as long as they are able.

[German] - Steuerliche Wuerdigung islamischer Vertragsmodelle - Neuerscheinung im Bankverlag

Steuerliche Würdigung im nationalen und internationalen Kontext

Der Markt Islamic Finance wächst rasant und umfasst bereits heute ein erhebliches Anlagevolumen. Demgegenüber besteht ein großer Kapitalbedarf in der europäischen, speziell auch in der deutschen Realwirtschaft ebenso wie ein Bedarf an Investoren.

Bei der Umsetzung von Islamic-Finance-Vertragsmodellen kann die Besteuerung im Einzelfall eine ausschlaggebende Rolle spielen. Daher erläutert die Autorin in diesem Buch für ausgewählte schariakonforme Finanzierungs- und Anlageformen zunächst die Scharia-Rahmenbedingungen der jeweiligen Vertragsmodelle aus deutscher rechtlicher, ertragsteuerlicher und verkehrsteuerlicher Sicht. Die steuerlichen Fragestellungen werden anhand von Beispielen im grenzüberschreitenden Corporate Bereich im Schnittpunkt von deutschem internationalem Steuerrecht und ausländischem Steuerrecht der weiteren beteiligen Staaten verdeutlicht.


* Einleitung
* Grundzüge von Islamic-Finance-Vertragsmodellen
- eigenkapitalbasierte („Musharaka“ und „Mudaraba“),
- fremdkapitalbasierte („Murabaha“ und „Tawarruq“) sowie

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Islamic Finance Group on ResearchGATE, the largest social network for scientists!

ResearchGATE is the largest social network for academic research globally. Dedicated social profiles of researchers allow to enter academic careers, published articles in journals and books, announce fields of research for international exchange just to name a few of the features.

IslamicFinance.de took another effort to create a dedicated group and invite researchers globally to use this platform and foster research in Islamic finance. The last academic initiative taken was to sponsor and start a full fledged platform for the Islamic Finance WIKI, the online encyclopedia.

Researchers are invited to participate in these initiatives.

Please visit:

Worldbank: Arab donors among the most generous in the world - twice the recommended amount

Arab donors—predominantly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Kuwait and United Arab Emirates (UAE)—have been among the most generous in the world, with official development assistance (ODA) averaging 1.5 percent of their combined gross national income (GNI) during the period 1973–2008, more than twice the United Nations target of 0.7 percent and five times the average of the OECD-DAC countries. Arab ODA accounts for 13 percent of total DAC ODA on average and nearly three-quarters of non-DAC ODA.

The share of Arab ODA in Arab GNI was exceptionally high in the 1970s and early 1980s, peaking at over 12 percent for the UAE and at about 8.5 percent for Kuwait and KSA in 1973. Nearly one-third of all ODA during the 1970s was from Arab donors. Although the ratio has fallen over time, it still exceeds the average among OECD-DAC member countries.

Moreover, Arab aid is generally untied, and is offered without conditions or restrictions.

H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Secretary General Of The OIC on Poverty Alleviation

Poverty is a complex issue and needs to be tackled on a range of fronts including, but not limited to, improving economic growth. Poverty remains one of the big challenges to socio-economic development of majority of developing countries, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. Besides, this phenomenon has brought about problems such as illiteracy, malnutrition, disease and even crime. Global food crisis further worsened the already precarious conditions of poor people in these countries.

To cope with the bane of poverty, the OIC has to reinvigorate its machinery for economic growth and cooperation among member countries through comprehensive mobilization of the resources, within and outside the OIC community. A new approach to economic cooperation was, therefore fashioned out to ensure that all stakeholders are sensitized on the need for the accelerated transformation of the economies of OIC Member-States and the welfare of their peoples.

New Islamic finance instructions in France

The possibility of the first sovereign or corporate sukuk origination out of France took a step nearer when the French government announced that it had passed new instructions to facilitate the introduction of sukuk, Ijara, Murabaha and Istisna products in France.

It is claimed that France now has a tax neutrality regime in place for facilitating Islamic financial products including Islamic bonds and certificates; cost-plus-financing; leasing and construction industry forward financing.

French banks such as Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, UBAF, Calyon (Banque Credit Agricole) have long been involved in global Islamic finance. BNP Paribas for instance recently listed its first Islamic exchange-traded fund (ETF) in Asia on Bursa Malaysia. Some two years ago it had advised the Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, to launch its first Islamic ETF, MyETF i. The new measures are not limited to a particular transaction but form a basis for a framework for Murabaha, Istisna, Ijara and sukuk transactions which satisfy both French law and Shariah principles.

Ashurst advises Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Al Hilal Bank on Emirates Steel's US$1.1 billion project financing agreement

Ashurst acted as counsel to the Islamic banks. The team was lead by managing partner of Ashurst's Abu Dhabi office, David Wadham, assisted by associate Faris Hadi. Denton Wilde Sapte (Neil Cuthbert) acted as counsel to Emirates Steel and Allen & Over (Bimal Desai) acted as common lenders' counsel to the banks.

Shariah experts push for scholar certificates

Leading Islamic finance scholars are preparing the first global certification for Shariah experts, seeking to bolster the industry’s reputation and make it easier for banks to find qualified advisers. The International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance in Kuala Lumpur will pick a board of regulators by year- end to issue permits for scholars qualified to sit on Shariah boards. The scholars decide whether financial products meet the religion’s precepts, including a ban on interest payments. Scholars are now required to have recognized university degrees before they can act as advisers to banks and companies. The council of scholars at the academy includes Sheikh Nizam Yaquby of Bahrain, Mohammad Daud Bakar of Malaysia and Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah of Syria. A centralized regulator for scholars will help increase investment because banks would save time in choosing experts to ensure products meet religious principles. The institution doesn’t plan to restrict scholars on the number of advisory panels they can join.

France eyes top spot in Islamic finance industry

In 2010 Qatar Islamic Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Banque Populaire Caisse d'Epargne, France's second largest banking group, in order to gain access to the French retail banking and small medium-size business markets. Recently, Paris Europlace signed an agreement with AAOIFI paving the way for greater cooperation to drive the development of Islamic finance in France.

9/11 effect on Islamic banking overstated

Patrick Imam and Kangni Kpodar note that the 9/11 attack on the US ‘had a positive impact on assets of Islamic banks, perhaps because Muslim investors, who traditionally invested in the West, were compelled to keep more money at home for fear of expropriation.

The study said that while oil prices have a positive and statistically significant impact on the diffusion of Islamic banking, the effect is likely to be asymmetric. They found that the probability for Islamic banking to develop in a given country rises with the share of the Muslim population, income per capita, and whether the country is a net exporter of oil. Trading with the Middle East and economic stability also are conducive to diffusion of Islamic banking and proximity to Malaysia and Bahrain, the two Islamic financial centers, also matters.

Solidarity names Bseisu group chief executive

The Solidarity Group Holding board has appointed of Ashraf Bseisu as group chief executive officer. Mr Bseisu is a long-standing Solidarity executive and a prominent member of the region's insurance industry. Solidarity Group Holding, one of the largest takaful companies in the world, includes the Solidarity Family Takaful Company and Solidarity General Takaful Company in Bahrain as well as subsidiaries and associates in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Luxembourg. Mr Bseisu is currently Bahrain Insurance Association chairman and the General Arab Insurance Federation vice-president. He has been with Solidarity since his appointment as general manager - finance and corporate management in July 2006 and has held several senior posts within the organisation. He has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance and financial services sector, where he held several executive positions.

Sovereign Sukuk Beating Company Debt First Time Since May: Islamic Finance

Sovereign Islamic bonds from Asia to the Persian Gulf are lowering returns on corporate sukuk for the first time in three months.

Malaysia’s Lembaga Tabung Haji fund, France’s BNP Paribas Investment Partners and Duet Mena Ltd. in Dubai forecast government debt will outperform until property prices in the Persian Gulf recover from a slump that prompted credit-ratings companies to downgrade corporate bonds.

Jailing Gulf debtors 'morally wrong' - economics academic

A leading economist says the practice of jailing debtors is morally wrong. In the rest of the world it is the banks’ responsibility to try to assess the credit worthiness of individuals. Prof Batchelor is trying to rebuild Dubai’s image. He thinks that Dubai could treat people who might have stayed and set up a business a little better. They shouldn’t be faced with the idea of going elsewhere in the world. Abdulfattah Sharaf, HSBC's head in the UAE, keeps his idea that jailing debtors remained an effective way for banks to retrieve bad loans.

Saudi mortgage law delay 'will hit lenders' - BMI

Saudi Arabia's parliament delays the decision concerning the mortgage law until the members return from summer recess. Saudi Arabia, the Middle East's biggest economy, needs 1.2 million new homes by 2015, says the Deutsche Bank research.

Ihsanoglu reiterates his call for a prompt action to contain the catastrophic situation in Pakistan

Date: 07/08/2010 -

OIC Secretary General, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, called, on 07.08.2010, upon OIC member states, its affiliated relief organizations and the international community to take a prompt action in order to contain the catastrophic effects of the unprecedented floods in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He expressed his deep concern about the humanitarian crisis resulting from the torrential rains that devastated entire villages, killed hundreds of people and displaced about 12 million people in the North-West and South of Pakistan, according to UN estimates.

The Secretary General affirmed that the OIC has already started taking action to mobilize support among member states and to provide assistance for those affected by the crisis. Mr. Ihsanoglu expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the member states that sent immediate assistance to displaced persons.

The Secretary General expressed his sincere condolences to the Pakistani people and government for the loss of lives caused by the floods, expressing sympathy with the relatives of victims and support to the affected people, and wishing the injured a prompt recovery.

Comments Invited for Policy Brief by Hawkamah’s Task Force on Corporate Governance of Islamic Financial Institutions

Hawkamah issues a DRAFT Policy Brief for consultation purposes only. Please find the related full document under source.

Please submit comments and feedback to Ms. Jahanara Sajjad Ahmad , Program Manager Hawkamah, The Institute For Corporate (jahanara.ahmad@hawkamah.org) .

The journal of strategic thinking in Islamic finance - Issue 3 for free download

In the current issues the following questions are discussed:

How should we recognize excellence in the Islamic finance industry?
How do we identify greatness – of bankers and financiers, of lawyers, of consultants, of scholars?
How do we discourage a culture of „Islamic Awards for Cash??
How do we develop an „Islamic? methodology for rewarding achievement?

Gulf Finance House Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'CC'; Outlook Negative; Ratings Withdrawn At GFH's Request

Press Release

Gulf Finance House Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'CC'; Outlook Negative; Ratings
Withdrawn At GFH's Request

*Gulf Finance House's liquidity is under immediate and severe stress, and the
institution has not been able to strengthen it, in our view. *We note that GFH has a
large debt repayment coming due in the next few weeks. *We are lowering our
long-term rating on GFH to 'CC' from 'CCC-' and are affirming the 'C' short-term
rating. *We are withdrawing all the ratings on GFH at its request. *The outlook was
negative at the time of withdrawal.

PARIS (Standard & Poor's) July 5, 2010--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said
today that it has lowered its long-term counterparty credit rating on Bahrain-based
Gulf Finance House to 'CC' from 'CCC-'. At the same time, we affirmed GFH's 'C'
short-term counterparty credit rating. Subsequently, we withdrew all the ratings on
GFH at its request. The outlook was negative at the time of withdrawal.

"The downgrade reflects our expectation that GFH is likely to restructure its debt
soon because of its weakening liquidity and revenue generation. In our view,

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