Press Release: FNB Shariah Board Officially Resigns
About ten years ago we were approached by First National Bank to design an asset finance product that would be Shari’ah Compliant. After overcoming numerous challenges, Wesbank Islamic Finance was launched in 2004 with our support and supervision. The success thereof gave rise to an Islamic window within FNB known as FNB Islamic Finance.
The division turned out to be a huge success, and new products were introduced with many more in the pipeline. We always enjoyed the cordial support and commitment of senior executives within the bank. Despite repeated requests, the members of the Shari’ah Board declined from accepting any remuneration for their services as members of the Board. The Bank always appreciated our services despite our more principled and precautionary approach and looked forward to our continued engagement until this last moment.
However, within the recent past, a change of guard within the Bank took place. Under the new non-Muslim senior executives we discerned a change of attitude and lack of drive to be committed to the more conservative approach we adhere to. In order to steer the ship into clearer waters, a meeting was held with the Shari’ah Board, the Bank’s senior executives and prominent businessmen from the Muslim community. Concerns were ironed out and a new pathway chalked out going forward.
It is with utter disappointment that we subsequently learnt that we were clearly lied to by these executives of the bank at that meeting. Our complaint thereafter to more senior executives fell on deaf ears. Independent clients of FNB, who were part of the discussions and correspondences, have expressed their shocking dismay at the Bank’s conduct.
Honesty, integrity and trust are the cornerstones of our involvement. In the light of such untenable breakdown in TRUST, the entire Shari’ah Board has immediately resigned.
This decision is taken after broad consultation with Ulama and Deeni conscious leading and influential businessmen.
Those who wish to deal with FNB Islamic Finance may do so on the clear understanding that we cannot vouch for their products. Those products that we had endorsed will remain valid for as long as there are no changes. However, as we no longer supervise the implementation, we cannot endorse the same.
We take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Ebrahim Patel, who has retired from the position of CEO of Islamic Finance, for his unflinching dedication to the promotion of Islamic Banking, and we wish him well in his new endeavours. He will be remembered as a pioneer in pure and uncompromising based Islamic Banking.
We reiterate our commitment to serving the Muslim community for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, and believe that the concept of Islamic banking has a promising future ahead provided it is accompanied with the commitment to doing things the correct way.
May Allah Ta’ala guide us all.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Ex-Chairman of the Shari’ah Board of FNB Islamic Finance.
15 Sha’baan 1433, 05 July 2012