Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shari'ah supervisory boards, KFH Malaysia to offer retail products, Other news

KFHMB to offer retail Islamic banking products in 2007

The Malaysian subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House, Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Bhd (KFHMB) has announced that it will roll out its line of retail Islamic banking products this year. KFHMB offers foreign currency current accounts, diminishing musharaka (musharaka mutanaqisa) and other home financing plans. The bank is one of only three foreign-owned Islamic banks in Malaysia and sees its expansion there as the first step in opening branches across Southeast Asia.

Role of Shari'ah Supervisory Boards

In a detailed description of the shortage of qualified Shari'ah scholars, Nik Muhamad Hafiz Nik Hassan, the senior executive of the Islamic Financial Services Unit at the Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority (LOFSA), highlights a criticism of the current structure of Shari'ah Supervisory Board. Scholars like Dr. Ali Mohammed El Gari and the late Dr. Zaki Badawi have criticized the appearance of a conflict of interest between the Shari'ah board's role performing their regulatory role while also being paid by the banks for which they provide oversight. While accurate figures are withheld by Islamic financial institutions, it is widely understood that the fees paid to Shari'ah scholars is very high (up to $500,000) and has increased in recent years as the demand for qualified Shari'ah scholars has risen faster than the supply.

Other news

The Gulf Daily News in Bahrain provides a description of the opening day of the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) meeting in Karachi, Pakistan.

As expected, the Indonesion government announced a forthcoming Islamic bond issue. Although Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority country in the world by population, the country has an underdeveloped Islamic finance market. 88% of its 245 million people are Muslim.

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