Monday, December 8, 2008

RHB Islamic phases out ‘disputed’ BBA financing

RHB Islamic Bank Bhd has completely phased out Al-Bai Bithaman Ajil (BBA) in favour of the musharakah mutanaqisah concept for its home financing products. This probably makes it one of the first local Islamic subsidiaries of local banks to move away completely from BBA which has been under increasing scrutiny over the years.
The move by RHB Islamic, one of the 17 Islamic banks including Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation (Malaysia) Bhd and Maybank Islamic Bhd licensed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), signals a shift in the local Islamic home financing front away from BBA.
"RHB Islamic has taken a stance of phasing out products and services based on BBA or bai al-inah with effect Oct 1. This is based on (its) Shariah committee's advice to adopt globally accepted Shariah principles," RHB Islamic Head of Shariah Division Ahmad Suhaimi Yahya told The Malaysian Reserve.
He added that the move is in tandem with the bank’s strategy to position itself as the banker of choice for local and international customers looking for Shariah-compliant financial products and services. This is in reference to the fact that BBA, with underlying concepts of bai dayn (debt trading) and bai inah (sale with imediate repurchase), are shunned in jurisdictions like the Middle East and Pakistan. BBA, which may involve the two concepts, is a deferred sale contract for a sale price that includes the profit, with a repayment period agreed beforehand.
For so many years, local Islamic banks have made BBA the linchpin when carving out Islamic financing, which now stands around RM143.4 billion.
The Islamic banking assets, according to latest statistics from the central bank, have expanded by 23% to RM234.9 billion compared to a year ago. The Islamic banking industry now accounts for 16.7% of total assets in the industry. It is understood that other banks are also in the midst of preparing to put on the shelf more home financing offerings that are not based on BBA contracts.
The recent major trigger for the move away from BBA was the July 18 written judgment by High Court judge Justice Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail in Arab-Malaysian Finance Bhd vs Taman Ihsan Jaya, first reported by The Malaysian Reserve on Sept 8.
The judgment, a collective ruling on 12 cases now pending an appeal, sent shockwaves in the local Islamic banking fraternity as they began deciphering its impact.
For starters, the judge had ruled that the application of the BBA contracts in those cases were contrary to the Islamic Banking Act 1983 (IBA). The judge ruled that since some BBA contracts were structurally faulty, defaulters need not pay more than the original financing amount that they received, depriving banks of the profit they would have otherwise booked from the transaction.
Bankers fear that this judgement could mean that current BBA financing clients would only need to pay the facility amount and would escape from paying the profit portion.
Following the High Court ruling, BNM sent a circular dated Sept 8 to heads of Islamic financial institutions to "strongly advise" them to review their heavy reliance on the BBA concept in their transactions.
The circular noted the industry's seeming over dependence on BBA, adding that BBA is a Shariah concept introduced more than 20 years ago to facililtate growth and development of Islamic finance.
At its end, RHB Islamic is offering Equity Home Financing-i to its customers based on diminishing musharakah or musharakah mutanaqisah as an alternative to the earlier BBA home financing.
(The Malaysian Reserve, Dec 09, 2008, p1, By Habhajan Singh. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays)

No comments: