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Top banker dispels misconceptions about Islamic financing
Published in Daily News Egypt on 23 - 03 - 2008

FLORIDA: "The major myth about Islamic banking is that it is about a cluster of hard line religious believers and about religion only, said Hany Aboul Fotouh, first vice president and group head of corporate governance and compliance at ABC Bank Egypt.
"The reality is nearly 60 percent of Islamic banks' customers are non-Muslims who mostly believe that Islamic finance is an alternative way of doing business and making money through wealth creation and distribution, he added.
At 13th annual International Money Laundering Conference, Aboul Fotouh tackled misconceptions about Islamic finance and banking, saying that "Islamic finance is rapidly growing. It is estimated at $700 billion globally and expected to reach $ 1.4 trillion.
More than 1,500 attendees from the United States and 40 countries participated in the conference, which was held in Florida from March 17-19, 2008.
Another misconception describes Islamic banks as being regulated only by Sharia. The reality is Islamic banks draw their founding blocks from Sharia and they operate fully under the law of land where they exist, he said.
"There are more than 300 Islamic financial institutions and Islamic windows operating globally. The major principles of Islamic finance are prohibition of all kind of interest, no financing of sinful and socially irresponsible activities as well and dealings are on contractual basis, he explained.
Aboul Fotouh participated in three panels among prominent panelists from global financial institutions and regulatory authorities, describing the conference as an opportunity to offer guidance from Anti Money Laundering (AML) experts offering strategies and solutions particularly how to survive in this demanding regulatory environment.
Aboul Fotouh spoke about the preparation of AML independent testing and regulatory examinations as well as best practices in creating AML training program.
Anti-money-laundering training is an integral component of compliance program, said Aboul Fotouh. The training program must be tailored to all professional staff relevant to the work they do. Board members and senior management should understand AML regulatory requirements, ramifications of noncompliance, and the risks posed to the financial institution. The training should be conducted annually.
He concluded by saying, There is much to be done to fight money laundering. It is a financial crime that damages financial institutions, impacts economic growth, reduces productivity, and distorts the economy s trade and capital flows. It takes away funds that could be used to alleviate health and social problems.
Aboul Fotouh he is a leading expert on money laundering and terrorist financing controls in the Middle East and North Africa region with extensive experience in AML compliance and training.
Founder of the Middle East Compliance Officers Forum, he has been honored for his work in promoting compliance awareness in Egypt and the MENA region. Previously, he held top compliance positions in multinational institutions, such as HSBC Bank Egypt, Banque Saudi Fransi, and Oman International Bank.
The conference organizer, Miami-based Alert Global Media, Inc. is the publisher of Money Laundering Alert and moneylaundering.com Premium, which provides money laundering news, analysis and guidance.

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