Dubai: Global Islamic Finance industry has experienced a blow which might hinder its progress up to little extent as one of the major and high-profile advisory firms in Islamic Finance has closed down without making any public announcement and the reasons of the closure are still unknown.
According to the sources, one of the most high-profile advisory firms in Islamic finance, Dar Al Istithmar, which advised Goldman Sachs on a controversial $2 billion sukuk program, has closed down with most of its staff moving to another company.
Dar, which had offices in London and Dubai, was set up in 2004 as a joint venture between Deutsche Bank, which subsequently pulled out, and financial firms Russell Wood Ltd and Oxford Islamic Finance Ltd.
The sources, who are familiar with the matter, informed that Dar has now been shut after most of its personnel moved to Khalij Islamic, another investment and advisory firm with offices in London and Dubai.
Officials at companies involved declined to speak publicly and it is not clear why Dar has closed down.
Dar’s former Chief Executive, Geert Bossuyt, who previously worked at Deutsche Bank, now holds the same position at Khalij, while former Dar Managing Director, Asim Khan, has also moved to Khalij, according to the Khalij website.
The Shariah board of Khalij lists former Shariah scholars at Dar, Hussain Hamed Hassan, Ali Al Qaradaghi and Aznan Hassan, who are some of the world’s most well-known scholars. Shariah boards rule on whether companies’ products and activities comply with Islamic principles.
Dar did not make a public announcement on its closure, but its website is now out of service and a telephone number listed for it by the Dubai International Financial Centre website is incorrect. The website lists Dar as inactive with its Dubai Financial Services Authority license revoked.
One of Dar’s most prominent clients was Goldman, whose plan to become one of the first Western banks to raise money through Islamic bonds, announced in October 2011, ignited a controversy in the Islamic finance community over whether the sukuk structure was valid and how the money would be used.
Goldman has said the sukuk met all necessary standards but publicly at least, the bank has not proceeded with the plan.
According to a source, some clients of Dar have also moved to Khalij with the management team.