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Profile: Islami Bank Bangladesh

January 23, 2012

Seal of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd

Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited describes itself as South East Asia’s first sharia bank.  In the 1980s, it helped handle transactions for the Saudi-based Muslim World League to promote Wahhabism in Bangladesh.

IBBL is not a minor financial institution.  Its September 2011 balance sheet shows bank assets of 330 billion Bangladeshi taka (BDT), or approximately 3.9 billion U.S. dollars.  IBBL has about $3.5 billion in deposits, which would put it on par with a local/regional financial institution in the U.S. such as a large metropolitan credit union or a statewide bank system.

IBBL building

The bank’s sharia advisory board met most recently in December at the posh Islami Bank Tower, and was presided over by sharia board chairman Sheikh Moulana Muhammad Kutubuddin.  The members of the sharia board get paid by the bank to give their blessing to the investments IBBL makes, and to approve the structures that IBBL uses avoid paying riba (interest) to their depositors or charging riba to their borrowers. IBBL has over 11 billion taka invested in “government” instruments, which suggests that Bangladesh’s taxpayers are on the hook for dividends being paid out to IBBL.

Sheikh Moulana Muhammad Kutubuddin

Chairman Muhammad Kutubuddin

IBBL provides mostly mudarabah savings accounts for its customers, which in theory is a permissible Islamic form of profit-sharing, but in practice is probably like a conventional money market account.  The difference is that the mudarabah profits are siphoned off by the sharia board to fund radical jihadist groups in the region like JMB and HUJI.

A portion of IBBL’s profits are spent as corporate zakat by the bank’s “charitable” wing, the Islami Bank Foundation.  Last year, the Bangladeshi home ministry revealed intelligence that indicated that 8 percent of the bank’s profits were diverted as zakat to support jihad in Bangladesh.

IBBL has won numerous “best Islamic bank” awards, but that is mostly meaningless in a sector where sharia banks (like Unicorn Investment Bank) routinely win awards until it’s discovered that their CEOs have swindled or defrauded investors.

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7 comments

  1. Generally, when alegations are brought against an individual or organization, impartial reporters will state that the allegations are in fact allegations. You have in your reporting unequivically stated that the bank is guilty. From your first article on the bank, “[t]he home ministry has intelligence report that the bank is spending a certain amount of its profits to spread militancy, a source told The Daily Star.”

    Do you know who the unnamed source is? Have you read the intelligence reports? If not it would seem the only basis you have for acquising the bank of funding jihad is a news article relying on an unnamed source. DO you thnk this is fair journalism?

    I am not saying the Bank is not funding jihad. My only contention is there has not been enough evidence to state categorically that the Bank does support jihad.


    • Bangladesh’s State Minister for Home, Shamsul Huq Tuku, is the one who made the government’s findings public. The primary source in the lead of the article is a named source who is a public official.


  2. [...] Bank Bangladesh Limited:  IBBL, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank, has handled Wahhabi accounts to propagate radical Islam since its inception.  In 2011, the Bangladeshi home [...]


  3. [...] Bank Bangladesh Limited:  IBBL, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank, has handled Wahhabi accounts to propagate radical Islam since its inception.  In 2011, the Bangladeshi home [...]


  4. Please know detail before comments. The statement of home minister (If he has given so) is political. what is your findings? that should be your comments. The persons who steal money from different banks can not bear the good position of IBBL. please do not create any chaos in a good environment. Work with good thinks in the light of inovation.


    • It’s not just the home minister. It’s also been verified in the course of investigations into U.S. and British investigations of HSBC and its relationship with IBBL.


  5. […] Bank Bangladesh Limited:  IBBL, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank, has handled Wahhabi accounts to propagate radical Islam since its inception.  In 2011, the Bangladeshi home […]



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