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Western Union’s sharia shipwreck

June 13, 2012

Money transfer giant partners with fishy sharia bank

Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd and global remittance leader get close

Western Union and IBBL officials join together

A major partnership has been reported between Western Union and Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) to provide remittance services to Bangladeshi expatriates.

IBBL is the largest and oldest sharia-compliant bank in Bangladesh.  The Islami Bank Foundation is its charitable wing.  Money Jihad has previously reported that:

  • In January 2011, the government of Bangladesh said there were “strong evidences of militant financing by the Bank and the Foundation.”
  • Bangladesh’s home ministry announced in March 2011 that 8 percent of IBBL’s profits are diverted as zakat to support militant jihad.
  • Abu Bakr Rafique, one of the advisors on IBBL’s sharia board, was arrested and interrogated in September 2011 for his suspected involvement in an Islamist attack that left three police officers seriously injured.

IBBL also played a historical role in facilitating transactions and handling accounts for the Saudi Wahhabi-based Muslim World League (Rabita al-Alam al-Islami).

More than any other entity, IBBL provides the clearest example of the connection between sharia banking and terror finance.

But Western Union doesn’t seem to mind.

From The Financial Express yesterday:

Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) Tuesday launched inward remittance transfer services linking millions of expatriates, living and working in over 200 countries and territories, to the bank’s 269 branches across the country.

Teaming up with world class cross-border money transfer platform-Western Union, IBBL enabled the Bangladeshi expatriates to send their hard-earned money to the beneficiaries at home within a few minutes.

Central bank’s General Manager Md Masud Biswas as the chief guest launched the IBBL’s Western Union Money Transfer Services at a ceremony at a city hotel.

Mohammad Abdul Mannan, IBBL Managing Director, presided over the function while Roy Fernandez, director-operations, East and South Asia of Western Union was the special guest at the ceremony, which was addressed, among others, by the bank’s Deputy Managing Directors Md Nurul Islam and Md Mahbub-ul-Alam.

Last year, IBBL’s market share over remittance inflow was 26.07 per cent. With the launching of the Western Union Money Transfer Services, the bank now became strengthened to collect more foreign currencies and contribute better for the economic growth and the people’s welfare, the speakers hoped.

Mr Biswas said “IBBL, through its 269 branches actively supports the socio-economic development of the country. The bank’s collaboration with Western Union, a global money transfer leader, will facilitate proper and timely remittance inflows for the citizens, contributing towards improving the overall economy of the country.”

The IBBL Managing Director said, “The bank last year serviced remittances grew at 10 per cent with 26.07 per cent market share in the country. This was possible due to the confidence placed on us by our beloved expatiates, whose satisfaction is one of our prime objectives. We facilitate NRB beneficiaries in the fastest and most caring manner all with minimal difficulty. This service excellence contributes greatly in earning their satisfaction.”

According to Bangladesh Bank information, remittances sent Bangladeshi living and working wage earners’ remittance coming into Bangladesh during 2009-10 came from the Middle East, followed by the USA at 13 per cent and UK at around 7 per cent, officials said.

Mr Fernandez said that one of the most important services to the expatriate is their convenient access to international money remittance services, both in terms of proximity and hours of operation.

The people can rely on the Western Union Money Transfer service; the beneficiaries will have an easier and timely access to the remittances under the service, he said.

“In Bangladesh, Western Union is committed to expand its agent network and developing innovative ways to meet the changing and increasing needs of money transfer consumers,” he added.

Westerns Union’s footprint in Bangladesh exceeds 11,000 agent locations in all the 64 districts of the country with 17 years of service. It also has more that 463,000 agent locations in over 200 countries and territories in the world.

This partnership will give IBBL a larger market share of the remittance business in Bangladesh, and put an even larger amount of money under the discretion of men on its sharia board like Mr. Rafique who can allocate corporate zakat toward organizations like Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

2 comments

  1. […] with IBBL due to the Islamic bank’s role in supporting militants.  Nonetheless, Western Union continues to do business with […]


  2. That is nice bank i like this bank



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