More than 100 key CEOs and Directors within the Islamic Finance Industry, as well as regulators, senior industry players and key stakeholders, packed out the top floor of the Governor Macquarie Tower at King & Wood Mallesons in Sydney on Tuesday 27 March at the 5th IFN Australia Forum 2018 exploring and engaging in constructive discourse on Australia’s Islamic finance sector.
Over 18 experts in Islamic finance industry presented and discussed key topics such as Islamic investment opportunities, portfolio construction and the importance of diversification, further growth and opportunity for shariah-compliant investment funds and Islamic real estate investment, property and construction finance.
Australia may still be lacking in dedicated Islamic finance laws, however, its stability, as proven by its unbroken record of continued economic expansion over the last 26 years and lucrative real estate sector, has attracted strong interest from Islamic investors from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
To cope with the demand, the very first Islamic bank in Australia project is currently underway by IBA Group with the intention to offer investment-linked retail and fund management products and services, compliant with Shariah governance and Australian regulatory rules and regulations.
This is a significant initiative to facilitate and enhance Shariah compliant banking and finance in Australia.
Professor Dr John Hewson, one of Australia’s most experienced economists, financial experts and company directors was the keynote speaker for the event.
CEO of Islamic Financial Services Council of Australia (IFSCA), Mr Chaaban Omran gave the welcoming remarks and an insightful presentation on Responsible Islamic Finance in Australia. He disagreed with the previous panel that discussed the need for the term Shariah-compliance.
“We don’t need to throw terms like Shariah-compliance around. As Dr Jalal said, the essence is all about asset based, even Almir (Colan) said to focus on the transaction. We don’t need anything different, or special just for the Australian Muslim community,” said Mr Chaaban Omran.
Dr Rashid Raashed, Chief Shariah Audit Executive and Board member for the Islamic Bank Australia (IBA) Group provided an insight from a religious perspective on living with the intention of being prosperous in the righteous path.
“If you want to live in this life, you should ask for a decent life. You can be the best performer and use this universe as it was subjugated for you. What is good for humanity is also good for Muslims; as long as you avoid what is forbidden,” said Dr Raashed.
“For a board to be truly Islamic, the board must provide a watertight constitutional guarantee that all services must be shariah-compliant,” he further added.
Dr Raashed clarified the IBA position on the matter of Interest:
“Interest, the Arabic word Riba has prohibition but there is no legal definition of interest in the Quran. You have to go through the application of interest throughout history. Any extra percentage of the money you have lent on the time elapsing – is interest.”
A member of the audience asked Dr Raashed, “How will the bank make money without interest?” Dr Raashed replied “We will not impose interest, there is enough money to be made without interest.”
The speakers at the 5th IFN Australia Forum 2018 included:
Keynote speaker: Professor Dr John Hewson
Board Member, IBA Group (former Opposition Leader of Australia)
Dr Abul Khair Jalaluddin – Director, Islamic Financial Services Council of Australia (IFSCA)
Ariff Sultan – Regional Director – Asia, IdealRatings Inc
Christopher Aylward – Partner, Banking and Finance, Madison Marcus
Hakan Ozyon – CEO, Hejaz Financial Services and Senior Portfolio Manager, Global Ethical Fund
Dr Imran Lum – Director, Islamic Finance, National Australia Bank
Mahanoor Hassan Khan – Operations Manager, Islamic Cooperative Finance Australia Ltd
Dr Muhammad M Khan – CEO, Halal Australia
Muzzammil Dhedy – COO, Hejaz Financial Services
Almir Colan – Director, Australian Centre For Islamic Finance
Chaaban Omran – CEO, Islamic Financial Services Council of Australia (IFSCA)
Dale Rayner – Partner, King & Wood Mallesons
Hilton Wood – Chief Representative Officer, Doha Bank, Australia
Issam Eid – Portfolio Manager, Sigma Funds Management
Mohamed Hage – Head of Investments and Research, CPG Research and Advisory Pty Ltd
Dr Rashid Raashed – Chief, Sharia’h Audit Executives (SAE) and Board Member, Islamic bank Australia Project/IBA Group
The 5th IFN Australia Forum 2018 was organised in association with AUSCIF with AMUST as its National Media Partner.
To view the program of the event, click here.