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PLAIN TRUTH Islamic Banking Is Welcome In Russia

fituDr. Mozammel Haque :

A Round Table discussion on the “Challenges and Prospects of Islamic Banking implementation in Russia” took place on 18 March 2015 at the Russian State Duma Committee on financial market.

The discussion was attended by the representatives of the Central Bank of Russia and the Federation Council, executive authorities, large financial institutions and banks of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as the representatives of the embassies of Egypt and Iran.

Challenges and Prospects of Islamic Banking
Implementation in Russia
The discussion was moderated by Dmitri Saveliev, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on financial market, who had brought to the State Duma the first bill (regarding the repeal of the ban on banks commercial activities) aimed at introducing Islamic banking in Russia.

The experts agreed that due to the current economic conditions the Russian Federation needs urgently to diversify the banking system, and defined Islamic finance as one of the promising sectors in this field. It is reported. “Establishing Islamic banks in our country will help to increase trust to our banking system in the whole”— said Alexander Torshin, Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia. “We don’t reject the idea. The Central Bank is ready to consider such initiatives as long as they are reasonable and legitimate”.

The participants pointed out that the practical implementation of Islamic banking requires considerable changes in the Russian legislation. “I would like to draw your attention to the challenges faced by the working party on Islamic finance under the Federation Council” — emphasized Sergei Batin, senator. “It is so-called double taxation for one thing. It is difficult to overcome this obstacle within the framework of the current legislation. I wish we could work in a constructive way and witness the issue of a federal law enabling Islamic banking implementation in Russia”.

Despite existing legislative impediments, the International Bank of Azerbaijan expressed its interest in Russian customers. The launch of the pilot project based on Islamic financial principles is scheduled for April in Moscow. “We are absolutely ready for cooperation. Our pilot project will employ funds in the sum of USD 1 million” — said Behnam Gurbanzade, the director of Islamic banking department of the International Bank of Azerbaijan. “After that, within the framework of the current legislation, the funds will be redirected to 3-4 large-scale Moscow projects. We will see how it works”.

Madina Kalimullina
Madina Kalimullina, Director of Economics Department of the Russia Muftis Council raised the question regarding using specific terms to denote Islamic financial institutions. Referring to the experience of Turkish and British colleagues, she noted that the alternative banking institutions of these countries have names not related to Islam.

Besides, Madina Kalimullina emphasized the importance of demonstrating the willingness of Russia to work according to Islamic financial principles. “International recognition is an important aspect. Russia should show its openness for working with Islamic countries. Nowadays many Islamic banks are expecting clear-cut decisions from the Russian side” — said Madina Emirovna. “Apart from that, we need to offer them an appropriate field of activity, an appropriate infrastructure”.

During the Round Table discussion the experts became acquainted with practical examples of using Islamic financial tools within the framework of the current legislation, discussed the issues of ethics and Shari’ah control over Islamic banks’ activity, and defined the precise steps to take in order to set the wheels of Islamic system in motion.

Decided to create an advisory
board on drafting bills
The discussion resulted in the decision to create an expert and advisory board with a view to amend certain legislative laws of the Russian Federation. “We are going to establish an expert working group on drafting bills” — summarized Dmitri Saveliev. “I invite you, dear colleagues, to participate in it within the frames of your organizations. We will be happy to defer to your expert recommendations and will take them into account in our legislation”.

The results of this work will be announced at the next large-scale meeting, which will take place in May. International Forum “Islamic Finance and Real Economy” embracing the issues of Islamic finance regulation and Islamic investment promotion will take place within Moscow Halal Expo 2015 on 21 May 2015.

Presentation by Madina Kalimullina
Risk assessment for Islamic banking
implementation in Russia
Madina Kalimullina Ph.D. in Economics, RAEIF executive secretary and coordination board member “Introducing Islamic banking in Russia” roundtable discussion on 18 March, 2015 made the following presentation on Risk Assessment for Islamic Banking Implementation in Russia. The presentation was translated by Natalya Ergen for MuslimEco.

The paper consists of the followings:
1. • Key aspects of Islamic banking implementation • Legal status of financial products • Correlation between different market participants’ interests • Risks specific to Russia

2 Key aspects of Islamic banking implementation • Terminology (law, financial organizations, agreements) • International recognition • Defining legal status of the products • “Islamic windows” • Abuse prevention • Ethics (shariah) control • Legislation flexibility (possibility of making amendments) • Market participants’ involvement (consideration of different players’ interests) • Raising financial awareness • Consumer protection

3. International recognition International standards (AAOIFI) Comprehensible ethics (shariah) control Active membership in IDB group Statements of leaders/large-scale projects with state guarantee

4. Consideration of market players’ interests Islamic Finance State Islamic banks/funds Russian banks Population Russian business Russian Islamic financial companies

5. Islamic banks and Islamic windows Full-fledged Islamic Banks Islamic windows Number of players Very small. 1-2 for the first several years Large number of players in banking tools Resource consumption Very high consumption (BBI) Lower consumption Phasing No phased transition Phased transition Law: 5-10 years Return on investment Time limit for return Considerable time reserve

Reputation risks + a) net assets – b) market entry risk a) mixing assets b) Shariah compliance risk c) Social risk (affiliated branch closing) d) Clients’ and employees’ mindset risk GCC investors Attractive for investors: Novations and development of Gulf countries’ banking culture Not attractive for Islamic investors Practical use in countries Kazakhstan, Malaysia (before 1993), Bosnia Malaysia (after 1993) Bahrain, Russia

6. Islamic banking Islamic financial companies (non-banking) Capability of attracting investment Attracting big investors Accumulating assets at microlevel Startup process Complicated, long Relatively simple and short Reserve insurance Special conditions – Loans (qard) Operating accounts. Plastic Special conditions +(according to the rules) Placement (qard) Special tools and conditions Special conditions Special conditions (mudarabah) Special tools and conditions Special conditions Murabahah Special tools, trade license Double taxation exemption (VAT) Musharahah Special conditions (Permit for equity holding) + Facilitating registration of ownership Mudaraba (project funding) Special conditions + Currency exchange + – Cash and settlement service + Contract with cash processing centre.

7. Islamic banks and Islamic financial companies Risks specific to Russia • Reputation risk (non-conformance to standards, inadequate ethics control) • Investment risk • Risk related to change of business owner • Political risk (especially when dealing with Gulf countries) • Existence of business elements contradicting shariah (in particular, in terms of financial indicators) • Mindset differences

8. International Forum «Islamic Finance and real sector of economy» May 21, Crocus Expo 1. Islamic finance and private equity funds as a tool of attracting investment into Russian economy •Creating favourable investment climate for investors •Systems of cross-border payments with OIC countries •Prospects of establishing Islamic banking industry in Russia •Practical implementation of Islamic finance and investment products in different sectors of economy. 2. Practical aspects and development problems of Islamic finance in Russia •Banking business diversification and gaining competitive advantages •Challenges of Islamic funding implementation •Means of involving the funds of population and business into the real sector of economy •Means of funding small and medium enterprises 3. Investment potential of Russian regions

9. Russia: integration into international market of Islamic finance • Experience of Badr-Forte bank • Transaction of Globex bank I (before 2006) • Establishing Economic programmes department in RMC • First conferences on Islamic finance • First product of EXPRESS bank II (2008) • Establishing RAEIF • Agreement on AAOIFI on standards translation • “Islamic finance” course in MIRBIS • Amal finance house • Moscow Halal Expo • Kazan Summit III (2009-2010) • “Lariba-Finance” • “Masraf” trust • AK BARS bank’s transactions • CIEFD • Internship in Islamic banks • Shariah rating -NRA • “Islamic law”

Master’s programme in Higher School of Economics • Letter on Islamic Country assessment in terms of Islamic finance development • Effective laws on Islamic banking • Effective amendments to certain acts • No legal framework • Effective laws on Islamic banking • Effective amendments to certain acts • No legal framework Legal framework for Islamic finance • Uncontrolled stage • Implementation stage • Growth stage • Uncontrolled stage • Implementation stage • Growth stage Development stage • Centralized • Non-centralized • Combined • Centralized • Non-centralized • Combined Shariah control system • Permitted • Forbidden • No regulation • Permitted • Forbidden • No regulation Islamic windows functioning • State regulation • Local regulation • Specialized funds