AAOIFI to perform temporary watchdog role

AAOIFI to perform temporary watchdog role

 

01 October, 2009
The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI)
has announced its intention to monitor Islamic financial products in the absence of a
sector watchdog. AAOIFI stated it plans to ‘screen products and services offered by the
industry for Shari’ah compliance’. According to Mohamad Nedal Alchaar, secretary
general of the organisation, the move would help to ‘homogenise the market’.

‘Although AAOIFI is not taking on a permanent role of industry watchdog, there exists a
current huge gap in the market relating to credible Shari’ah compliance screening of
products and services,’ stated Alchaar.

Currently, the Islamic financial industry must rely on different standard-setting bodies,
such as AAOIFI in Bahrain and the International Financial Services Board (IFSB) in
Malaysia, which recently issued new governance and capital adequacy guidelines
(NewHorizon, April–June 2009). The guidance of individual, qualified Shari’ah scholars
also plays an important role, as do national governments in countries which practice
Islamic finance.
An example of the difficulties facing the industry came with comments from Shaikh
Muhammad Taqi Usmani, head of the Shari’ah committee of AAOIFI, pronounced in
February 2008 that many sukuk issues up to that point were not Shari’ah-compliant. This
resulted in a sharp drop in new issues of sukuk, despite having doubled every year since
2004 (NewHorizon, October–December 2008).

As well as preparing accounting, governance, ethics and Shari’ah standards for Islamic
banking and financial institutions, AAOIFI already provides product and auditing
standards which are mandatory in seven countries across the Islamic world (Dubai,
Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and Sudan). Alchaar stated that AAOIFI wants
to screen products of all institutions, not just those which are members of AAOIFI, and
not just those in the seven countries listed. ‘It will be market-wide, regardless of the
geographic distribution of products,’ he said.

AAOFI plans to submit a proposal to this effect to its board of trustees by the end of
2009.