Posts Tagged ‘Al Baraka Banking Group’

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Charity’s bank accounts closed over Hamas ties

February 19, 2013

The Al-Aqsa Foundation’s account with the First National Bank of South Africa has been suspended.  The alleged Palestinian relief charity is already blacklisted by the U.S.

An intriguing part of this article is a brief reference to Al-Aqsa opening an account with a second bank, Al-Baraka, after Al-Aqsa was notified that First National Bank would be closing Al-Aqsa’s account.  Al-Aqsa must have believed that Al-Baraka, a branch of the Bahrain-based sharia finance conglomerate known as the Al-Baraka Banking Group, would have been a safe haven for its tainted funds.  However, once the attempt to evade international sanctions by simply opening a new account with a second South African bank was discovered, Al-Baraka has no choice but to suspend Al-Aqsa’s account as well.

In similar developments elsewhere, TCF Financial Corp. is closing the accounts of several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota, and UBS closed a bank account belonging to the UK-based Islamic Relief late last year.

From the Daily Maverick:

Banking woes for SA charity suspected of financing Hamas

The Al Aqsa Foundation has had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended in recent weeks. Despite being registered with the South African government as a bona fide charity, the foundation is believed to be covertly funnelling funds to Hamas. By KHADIJA PATEL.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation, a charity registered with the Department of Social Development focusing on providing aid to Palestinians has recently had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended. The Foundation is suspected by the US government to be raising funds for Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement and governing authority of the Gaza strip.

In December, First National Bank (FNB) issued Al-Aqsa Foundation with three months’ notice before completely shutting its account. In a statement, the CEO of FNB Commercial Banking Michael Vacy-Lyle explained, “It has come to the bank’s attention that the foundation is expressly listed by the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other international sanctions lists.”

The move received widespread condemnation from the South African Muslim community, with at least one prominent cleric calling for a boycott of FNB. The Media Review Network, an organisation focused on the representation of Islam and Muslims in the media, deplored FNB heeding to the dictate of “foreign” agents, despite the Foundation receiving a clean audit from the Department of Social Services.

FNB, however, has sought to dismiss allegations that it has been bullied by the US government into closing the account. The listing is said to have come to the attention of the bank over a year ago during routine internal governance processes, and closing the account is an act of expedience that allows FNB to keep up its relationships with other financial institutions in the US.

Vacy-Lyle said, “The international financial community imposes stringent obligations in respect of the maintenance of banking relationships with entities listed by OFAC and the decision by FNB to terminate its relationship with the foundation is a consequence of this fact alone.”

Annette Hübschle, a researcher focused on the organised crime-terror nexus, said the move to close the Foundation’s account in light of the US listing was revealing of who holds the greatest power in global politics.

Last week it was revealed that another South African bank, Al-Baraka bank, had also frozen an account of the Al-Aqsa Foundation – this account had been opened after FNB had indicated it would be terminating the Foundation’s account.

According to another statement from FNB quoted by Channel Islam International, “The closure is a requirement of global banking governance and is applicable to all South African Banks including Al-Baraka Bank.”

Hübschle agrees. “They have all signed up to the Basel regulations,” she said. “In essence, banks do have to comply, not necessarily with the US, but more if they want to do business in the US then they actually do have to comply.”

She names the example of The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal) as a case in point. “In 2003, the US Treasury named Interpal a ‘specially designated global terrorist group’ that directly financed Hamas, while the British Charity Commission gave Interpal a clean bill of health. This perhaps reflects a disagreement about where charity ends and extremism begins,” she said.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation has been described by the United States as a “critical part of Hamas’ transnational terrorist support infrastructure”. According to the US government, Hamas “uses humanitarian relief as cover to provide support to the Hamas terrorist organisation”. Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza strip, is further designated by the US Secretary of State as a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation”. According to the US, Hamas is known to raise millions of dollars per year throughout the world using charitable fundraising as a cover. Al-Aqsa Foundation is alleged to be one such mask for more nefarious Hamas activity…

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Sharia banking gains steam in Algeria

November 29, 2010

Nacer Haidar, an Al-Baraka Bank executive, is calling on Algeria to “enact special laws for some Islamic banking products…”  Special laws, got it?  Not the same standards and laws for all banks.  Not one law for the whole country, but a second set of laws for the Islamists.  That would work out just fine for Al-Baraka, an Islamic banking network which is expanding its presence throughout North Africa.

From Magharebia on Nov. 12:

Islamic banking gains popularity in Algeria

For Algerian consumers seeking to avoid interest payments, sharia-compliant mortgages and other loans remain limited by an inadequate legal, institutional, and regulatory framework. An Islamic financing forum held Tuesday (November 9th) in Algiers examined how to satisfy these clients.

“The law on money and credit permits Islamic banking transactions and products, including mortgages, because these products don’t constitute any breach of the Algerian law, and not because these financial institutions are compliant with the principles of Sharia,” said Zoubir Ben Terdeyet of Isla Invest Consulting, which helped organise the conference.

Ben Terdeyet confirmed that this financial concept is deemed an important alternative solution, as it includes measures that can curb inflation and avoid financial crises that lead to bankruptcy.

Al-Baraka Bank chief Nacer Haidar highlighted the importance of the Islamic banking system in solving the problem financing private-sector businesses. He also emphasised the need to expand the scope of Islamic financing system in Algeria, calling for implementing murabaha (sale on profit) at the level of banks and for using funds to expand production and providing means of work.

”The share of the Algerian banking market doesn’t exceed 1% of the total assets circulated around the world,” Haider said, adding that measures included in the Islamic banking system would put an end to the tax problems with investments and riba-based practices that cause financial crises.

Algerian authorities need to “enact special laws for some Islamic banking products, as was the case with financing through musharaka (joint venture), which complies with the laws and procedures related to investment capital,” Haidar said.

I guess all the jihadi kidnappers in Algeria can’t tolerate depositing their funds into a secular bank.  Glad to know they’ll have new options shortly.

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Tunisian bank rebrands itself

December 30, 2009

Tunisia, often considered a moderate Muslim country, or at least a country that has put appropriate constraints on Islam (according to this post from Hugh Fitzgerald on Jihad Watch), is poised to mirror Saudi/Bahraini-style sharia banking.

The Tunisian bank formerly known as “Bank Et-tamweel Al-Tunisi Al-Saudi” is renaming itself Al Baraka Bank Tunisia.  The new moniker aligns the bank with the Al Baraka Banking Group (or Dallah Al-Baraka), one of the largest Islamic banking networks in the world, headed by Saleh Kamel, one of the world’s richest Arabs.  The full story from Zawya is here, but here are the highlights:

In line with the strategy being implemented by the Bahrain-based leading Islamic banking group Al Baraka Banking Group to have a unified new corporate identity for the Group and its subsidiary banks, Al Baraka Bank Tunisia launched its new unified corporate identity…

On this occasion, Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of Al Baraka Banking Group said that he was delighted with Al Baraka Bank Tunisia joining the new corporate identity of the ABG Group, a step that would go much further than just a change in the name or logo to include the added value provided by the Bank to its owners, shareholders, investors and the economic and social activities that the bank serves…

Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif, member of the Board of Directors of Al Baraka Bank Tunisia and President & Chief Executive of Al Baraka Banking said that “We are glad to see Al Baraka Banking Group, despite the global financial and economic crisis, continue the implementation of its strategic plans since the beginning of the year. During the second quarter of this year, we launched the new corporate identity of ABG group at highly publicized unveiling ceremonies held at head office and the subsidiary units of the Group. The new corporate identity requires us to adopt a set of policies and high ethical and professional standards with regard to the offering of innovative and efficient Sharia-compliant services and products.

Remember that old jazz tune, “Night in Tunisia”?  Unfortunately, the dark trends of sharia finance give that title new meaning.