Posts Tagged ‘Sharia finance’

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Why can’t you send money home to Somalia? Because your politicians want sharia banking first

September 8, 2014

The fairy tale is that existing financial channels from conventional Western banks in England and Minnesota can create a new, “safe corridor” for high-tech, well-screened remittances from the Somali diaspora back to their families with an eliminated risk of financing terrorism or corruption in the process. The sharia banking plan is to leapfrog over the creation of a conventional, interest-based banking sector in Somalia by establishing sharia financial sector based exclusively on Islamic law. The word on the street is that the notorious money transfer company Dahabshiil is peddling influence with Somali politicians to ensure that no new financial institution cuts into their racket—a charge which (like every other mounting charge against it) Dahabshiil denies.

The result of all this is that there has yet to be a conventional bank in Somalia that can provide banking and money transfer services.  Thus it is becoming increasingly clear that Western banks should not be blamed for the inability of Somali leaders to authorize their own private banks and remittance channels.  The next time you hear somebody demand Western banks to keep the “lifeline” of Somali remittances open, ask yourself why Somali politicians won’t create a lifeline of their own.

The following excerpt from an Aug. 25 Foreign Policy article entitled, “Franchise Opportunity: Western Union in Somaliland” (hat tip Sal) goes a long way to explain why:

…For the past year, Somaliland’s parliament has failed to enact legislation allowing the creation of a commercial banking sector. The reluctance, government insiders say, is rooted in the belief that sends the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing from every corner of Hargeisa five times a day: the Islamic faith. Mindful of a constitution explicitly drafted according to Islamic principles, Somaliland’s parliamentarians have approved an Islamic Banking Law, but have yet to pass its commercial equivalent. They fear it could introduce the charging of interest on economic activity, which is unacceptable under sharia law.

“We’ve visited parliament; we have sat down with the chairman to explain how important this is, how much we need these foreign banks. We push and push and push,” says Abdilahi Hassan Aden, director general of Somaliland’s (unrecognized) central bank. “But we are still waiting.”

A Western advisor to the government sees parliament as ultimately persuadable, but not without work. “A lot of this is about changing the narrative when it comes to religion, changing mentalities,” the advisor says. “Islamic countries like Malaysia or Indonesia, for example, still manage to have commercial banking sectors.”

In private, some officials voice the suspicion that a commercial banking law has been so long in coming because the MTOs, influential local economic players that they are, until recently preferred the remittance system to remain just as it was. It’s a charge Dahabshiil, for its part, rejects. Abdirashid Duale, chief executive officer, insists the company is keen to see legislation allowing commercial banking passed. “Dahabshiil is very supportive of any law or other initiative that supports the commercial banking sector,” he says.*

Dahabshiil, which says it does background checks on all the customers it can, sees itself instead as a victim of world events. “All of this started because of 9/11,” Duale says. “Before then, there was no difference between us and a grocery store opening a bank account to deposit its earnings. With 9/11, the world changed, especially for Muslims.”

MTO operators say Barclays’s move would do the opposite of improving competition on a continent whose inhabitants already pay well over the odds for their money transfers. U.S.-based Western Union and MoneyGram, which the Barclays decision would not affect, charge far higher fees than Dahabshiil, which prides itself on being the cheapest MTO in the world.

Dahabshiil has now applied for and been granted a banking license under Somaliland’s existing Islamic banking legislation. But if that materializes, there would still be an open question of how thousands of rural families who will never see the inside of a bank — too far away, too expensive — would survive financially.

After a spirited lobbying campaign by the Somali diaspora, fronted by Olympic sprinter Mo Farah, whose family lives in Somaliland, the British government set up an action group in the fall of 2013 to try to hammer out a solution. The Department for International Development (DFID), alongside the British Treasury, is working on establishing a “safer corridor” for remittances. Its feasibility study explores ways of improving customer due diligence, from biometric fingerprinting to PINs to bar codes, and the establishment of an independent “trusted third party” to audit transactions. But more than a year after the remittance issue first blew up, the “safer corridor” remains a distant aspiration.

British consultants who were in Hargeisa to address a conference on money laundering, attended by Somaliland government ministers, remittance companies, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the World Bank, dismiss the “safer corridor” idea as a non-starter. (They have been commissioned by Dahabshiil to carry out a regional banking survey.) “It’s a Hans Christian Andersen story concocted by DFID, a case of the emperor’s new clothes,” says Peter Norris of Obiter Consult. “It’s been very unhelpful in luring everyone into a false sense of security.”

“The idea that you can have some massive computer system and somehow feed all this information in … and the computer will somehow work out which clients are dodgy and which are clean is a nonsense,” he adds…

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Bangladesh probes terror-linked sharia bank

August 26, 2014

The government of Bangladesh is reviewing a report from Islami Bank Bangladesh, Ltd. (IBBL) on its expenditures. Authorities will review whether IBBL has accurately disclosed the organizations to which it contributes money, and perhaps whether the bank maintains any accounts for individuals listed on international blacklists.

IBBL has previously been documented to have diverted profits to militant Islamist groups as a form of corporate zakat. The bank was also cited by the U.S. Senate as one of the financial institutions with which the British bank HSBC should not have been doing business with due to terror finance concerns.

Thanks to readers Talha, Ranel, Ononto, and MFS for sending in the news. This account comes from Bangladesh 24:

Govt is investigating Islami Bank’s spending

The government is looking into where the Islami Bank spends its profit, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said.

“Islami Bank already gave a report on how its profits are spent. The intelligence people have been instructed to look into whether there are any discrepancies in it,” said the minister.

He was speaking to reporters after emerging from a meeting of the ministry’s Antiterrorism Committee on Thursday.

Kamal said the government was monitoring a few other financial institutions, operated by the bank, accused of terrorist-financing.

“The key to terrorism is funds. If that can be traced then wiping out terrorism will be easier,” said the minister.

Islami Bank has been under international pressure in the last few years after a US Senate Committee report accused it of terrorist financing.

Banks like HSBC, Citi Bank NA and Bank of America have suspended transaction with it since then.

According to Bangladesh Bank officials, the bank maintained accounts of people, who were on the UN’s suspicious people’s list.

Islami Bank authorities did not disclose information of those accounts to the central bank…

The bank, widely believed to be supported by the Jamaat-e-Islami, has come under fire from pro-liberation forces for their alleged funding of Islamist groups.

The party itself is facing investigation of the International Crimes Tribunal for the crimes against humanity committed during the War of Independence.

The Board of Directors of the bank is always dominated by people linked to Jamaat-e-Islami.

According to claims of Islami Oikya Jote leaders, the incumbent Chairman Abu Naser Mohammad Abduz Zaher was a leader of Al-Badr, a vigilante group of Bengalis raised by Pakistani occupation army, in Chittagong.

Islami Bank’s former Vice-Chairman Mir Quasem Ali is a member of Jamaat central committee and now facing trial for alleged war crimes perpetrated during the 1971 Liberation War.

He is also the member (administration) of Islami Bank Foundation and a member of Ibn Sina Board of Trustee, an associate organisation of the bank.

Islami Bank’s former Chairman Shah Abdul Hannan is known to be closely linked to the party, which had opposed the nation’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Its Deputy Managing Director Syed Abdullah Md Saleh is the sibling of former Jamaat MP from Chouddagram, Syed Abdullah M Taher.

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Sharia bank board joined at Jamaat’s hip

May 13, 2014

The extensive ties between the sharia bank Islami Bank Bangladesh, Limited (IBBL), and militant movements, extremist political parties, and terrorist financing, have come into sharper focus over the last few weeks. Consider:

  • The current chairman of IBBL’s board, Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher, is alleged to have been a leader member of the Al-Badr militia, which committed war crimes in an attempt to prevent Bangladesh from gaining independence from Pakistan in the 1970s.
  • IBBL’s former director and vice chairman, Mir Quasem Ali, is in jail awaiting trial for war crimes.
  • Shah Abdul Hannan, variously described as a former chairman or director of IBBL, is also close to Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed Bangladesh’s independence.
  • Former deputy director Syed Abdullah Md Saleh is the brother of a former Jamaat member of parliament.
  • IBBL sharia board member Abu Bakr Rafique was implicated in a terrorist attack against police officers.
  • Bangladesh’s home ministry revealed in 2011 that 8 percent of IBBL’s profits are diverted as zakat to terrorist groups.

Thanks to Munazir for sending in related news.

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Sharia banker’s former life as terrorist exposed by shocking allegation

May 1, 2014
Chairman Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher

Chairman Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher

The chairman of the board of the sharia-compliant financial institution Islami Bank Bangladesh, Limited (IBBL), Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher, was a leading member of the Al-Badr militia during the war for Bangladesh’s independence according to an unconfirmed report by a former vice chancellor of Chittagong University writing for the Daily Sun last month.

Al-Badr assassinated and tortured supporters of independence from Pakistan, and some Al-Badr members have been convicted of war crimes. Money Jihad previously revealed that IBBL diverts 8 percent of its profits to terrorist groups as a form of corporate zakat, and that at least one other IBBL board member was named in connection with a terrorist attack against Bangladeshi police. IBBL’s relationship with international bank HSBC was also cited as an example in a U.S. Senate investigation of HSBC’s sloppy counter-terror and anti-money laundering program.

Abdul Mannan indicates that “Professor” Zaher the banker is the same person as Abdul Zaher Mohammed Abu Naser who was an Al-Badr leader. This is entirely plausible because many of the Al-Badr leaders, who were backed not only by Pakistan but by Saudi Arabia as well, were well protected and funded in the years that followed Bangladesh’s independence. The men formed a far-flung and loosely confederated group of charities, trusts, and political entities from Dhaka to London to New York. These men share the same goals of keeping Bangladesh under Pakistan’s sphere of influence and fanning the flames of radical Islam in both countries as a hedge against India. They use sharia banks and Islamic charities to funnel money toward jihadists today.

Thanks to Munazir Hussain Syed for sending in related news.

Jamaat-Shibir: The terror merchants

To begin with many of the readers would not know Abdul Zaher Mohammed Abu Naser, an Al-Badar high command member of 1971 and its District Chief in Chittagong. He was also a member of the central committee of the Islami Chhatra Sangha, the predecessor of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, currently ranked as the third deadliest and fiercest outfit in the world by the IHS Jane’s 2013 Global Terrorism and Insurgency Attack Index from HIS Inc, a leading London based global source of critical information insight. But perhaps the name of Prof. Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher would ring the bell amongst few, especially those who are linked with the banking world. An online news correspondent awakes me from my regular afternoon siesta to ask me if these two persons are same. Strangely some of my friends and well-wishers rightly or wrongly think that I have all the clues to unknown facts of our national history. I try to oblige them as best as I can, but never feed them with wrong information. I tell my young friend to give me some time. I go back to my sources and inform him that the person who was an Al-Badar operative in Chittagong in 1971 later served as the personal assistant to the Saudi Ambassador in Bangladesh as well as the Embassy’s Librarian. The current Chairman of the Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) also served in the same capacity for thirteen years, his name seems very similar and claims he passed his MA in English Literature from Rajshahi University. The Al-Badar operative of 1971 studied in Chittagong, and went into hiding like many of his kind to resurface after the killing of Bangabandhu in 1975. I ask my young friend: why has suddenly Prof. Abduz Zaher become so important? He informs me that he was standing in line with the Prime Minister when a group of bankers went to the PMO on February 25 to hand over cheques to the families of the BDR carnage of 2009. I tell him I have given you the information. Now it is the duty of the government agencies and the investigative journalists to dig out the past of Prof. Zaher. Once Quader Mollah was sentenced to death and executed, many of his followers were quick to point out that this Quader Mollah and the Quader Mollah, the butcher of Mirpur in 1971 is not the same person. On that evening I had the misfortune of taking part in a TV talk show with one of the learned advisors of Begum Zia. He was so upbeat in holding on to this theory that at one point I thought the elderly advisor may have a heart attack. I tried to cool him down but to no avail. I told him Mollah is dead and a dead man tells no tale. I tell my young journalist friend some people are hyper lucky. They can go up to the PMO and spend time with the Prime Minister and that is made possible by some of the short-sighted functionaries at PMO. I wish the PM knew who these functionaries were. Things do not stop here. Even some of our very important policymakers in the government and responsible ministers often try to downplay the public perception of Jamaat and its storm trooper Islami Chhatra Shibir and open protective umbrellas over their head and shield them from public disgrace. Good sense seldom prevails amongst these ‘important’ persons. Let us hope someone will take the responsibility to solve the riddle of Abdul Zaher Mohammed Abu Nasser and Prof. Abu Nasser Muhammad Abduz Zaher. With a good intention that should not be a problem. Given a chance sometimes our sleuths can do the impossible…

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The money jihad: recommended reading

February 13, 2014
  • A senior Al Qaeda facilitator/financier in Iran is “more active than ever”… more>>
  • Sharia-compliant finance was concocted by the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine the Western financial system and establish the banking backbone of a neo-Caliphate, says the American Center for Democracy… more>>
  • Al Qaeda affiliates have more money than Al Qaeda Central. Time to rethink who’s calling the shots… more>>
  • Sen. Warner says that he knows from the intelligence community that what happened to Target shoppers in its credit card breach “happens daily to financial institutions”… more>>
  • Banks and businessmen should keep an eye on Turkey because it’s still helping Iran evade sanctionsmore>>
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Top terror finance stories of 2013

December 30, 2013

From massacres on the streets of Syria to the streets of Boston, 2013 has offered far too many illustrations of how terror-borne bloodshed is financed:

  1. Sunni and Western powers risk funding Syrian rebels despite their Al Qaeda allegiance
    Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the U.S., U.K., and France have provided money and supplies to the enemies of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite the risk of the materiel falling into the wrong hands.  Gulf-based support has gone directly toward Salafist fighters; Western aid has been targeted toward the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army, but entire brigades of the FSA have pledged allegiance to al-Nusra Front—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—during 2013.  Reports this month of a “suspension” of U.S. aid have been somewhat exaggerated; as one official conceded, “the suspension of aid only applies to the opposition in northern Syria, adding that supply lines from Jordan in the south would continue.”  Foreign support has prolonged the conflict in Syria and increased the chances for Al Qaeda to take over the country.
  2. Boston marathon bombing made possible by Saudi money
    North Caucuses militants have been funded for decades by Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis and their wealthy expatriate terrorists like Ibn al-Khattab  and Osama Bin Laden and invested millions of dollars into the training and recruitment of fighters, the construction of radical mosques, and the creation of jihadist websites in Slavic languages.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev read and engaged with these websites and pursued support from these Saudi-sponsored sources when he traveled to Russia in 2012.  Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar also learned from Inspire magazine by deceased terror imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who presided over Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.In effect, Saudi money created the breeding environment both online and on the ground in the North Caucuses in which the Tsarnaevs’ plot was hatched.

    Sadly, the media and public officials have been slow to recognize and expose the connections between the Saudis, the North Caucasus militants, and their followers living in North America.  Two Democrat-appointed federal judges inexplicably reversed the conviction this year of Pete Seda, a Muslim “peace activist” who sent money through a Saudi-based charity from Oregon to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

  3. The U.S. became the world’s #1 energy producer in 2013.  This development reduces our dependence on Arab oil and the flow of petrodollars that fund terrorism.
  4. The compensation of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism was ignored during negotiations in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.
  5. The Somali Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab’s finances rebounded in 2013 despite their loss of control in 2012 of the key harbor in Kismayo to Kenyan, African Union, and allied forces.  The main ingredients in their financial resurgence included an expansion al-Shabaab’s lucrative charcoal smuggling operation, the resumption of payments from the Dahabshiil money service to al-Shabaab, and indirect support from the Gulf.  The funding has allowed operations such as killing sprees in Mogadishu and the September terrorist attack on Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  Nevertheless, a British court injunction has forced Barclays to continue partnering with Dahabshiil to facilitate remittances to Somalia.
  6. Read the rest of this entry ?
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Bin Laden’s old bank signs £100m London deal

December 3, 2013

Osama Bin Laden used to send money to his operatives through Tadamon Islamic Bank, a sharia-compliant financial institution based in Yemen.  Hassan al-Turabi, the man largely responsible for the imposition of sharia law in the Sudan, also had free access to Tadamon in the 1990s.

Tadamon, now calling itself Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, maintains a “wholly owned subsidiary” investment bank called Tadhamon Capital in Bahrain.  Tadhamon Capital has just reached a £100 million (163 million USD) agreement to build a mixed-use student housing and commercial development on Paul Street in London.

From ArabianBusiness.com:

Bahrain investment firm inks $163m London deal

By Andy Sambidge

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bahrain-based Sharia compliant investment firm Tadhamon Capital has announced the acquisition of its second Central London development in a deal worth more than £100m ($163m).

It said the Paul Street development was concluded in a joint venture with Apache Capital and McLaren Property following the full letting of its first prime London student development, Paris Gardens.

The Paul Street development will be comprised of three blocks, two of which will contain 456 student accommodation units with a 1,550 sq ft ground floor retail space, with the third block consisting of a stand-alone office building.

Tadhamon said in a statement that construction work is expected to commence in during the first quarter of 2014 with completion targeted by the end of Q3 2015.

It said the investment is expected to generate a minimum average annual net cash yield of 7.3 percent.

Paul Street is located on the northern fringe of the City, within proximity of the fashionable areas of Hoxton and Old Street.

Waleed Abdulla Rashdan, CEO of Tadhamon Capital, said: “Over the past four years we have taken a strategic decision to expand our investments within the UK and have since focused on building our social infrastructure platform.

“To date, we have successfully closed 10 transactions at a total value of £240m… We will continue exploring further opportunities within these sectors as part of our platform as they have proven their resilience to market changes, and continued their marked growth.”

He added “Over the past years we have established a solid real estate investment platform which will be used to replicate our success and experience within the UK to invest over the next 18 months in selected cities within the EU, US and Turkey.”

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