Dr Bello Lawal Danbatta is the new secretary-general of Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), a regulatory and supervisory global body for this growing sector of alternative finance in Europe and elsewhere.
The appointment of Dr Danbatta was approved by the IFSB council at its 31st meeting on 11 December 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was announced on 26 January 2018. He assumed his office on 29 January.
Malaysia is a major international hub for Islamic banking and finance, aka IBF, outside the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Pakistan. Malaysia’s achievements in the global Islamic finance sector were targeted by former British Prime Minister David Cameron as a ‘good to have’ industry to vie for in Britain, competing with the Southeast Asian nation and rival European centres drawn to IBF’s lucrative potential.
Cameron’s ambitions, reflected in less-than-friendly innuendo and pronouncements aimed at IBF rivals, were thwarted by his own-goal referendum for exiting European Union, aka Brexit.
This historic self-harm was driven by the ruling Conservative Party’s internal politics that threw British relations with continental Europe, in particular European Union, in hate-filled jeopardy. Rarely has such colossal damage to Britain’s centuries old relations with continental Europe been delivered in such comprehensive manner before or after the two world wars of the 20th century. Brexit’s negative impact on IBF is seen by industry analysts as an important but poorly reported event.
One upshot of Cameron’s gamble has been to inject new uncertainties into the future of the Islamic finance industry in Britain. France, Germany, even Switzerland, have explored Islamic finance, but Luxembourg so far has been the most proactive European practitioner outside the UK. Now Britain’s increasingly volatile relations with its 27 EU partners threaten to undo advances made by the UK-based Islamic banking and finance industry. Luxembourg and more recently Germany are poised to eclipse Britain’s IBF industry amidst fractious uncertainties over Brexit. German magazine Der Spiegel this week reported in detail how the flight of finance from London is benefiting Frankfurt.
IFSB welcomed Dr Danbatta at the helm of its Strategic Performance Plan 2016-2018 as it moves towards the next cycle. The board aims to sharpen its focus on expanding the IBF industry worldwide within “a clear framework.”
Dr Danbatta previously was director of the Centre of Consultancy and Executive Programmes at the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, aka the global ‘global university’ of Islamic finance. INCEIF’s inception in 2005 followed projections that an exponential growth in Islamic finance accentuated the need to develop human capital in a commensurate degree. He succeeds Mr Jaseem Ahmed, who retired in April 2017, having held the helm of IFSB since April 2011. In the interim, the post was held by Acting Secretary-General Mr Zahid ur Rehman Khokher.
Dr Danbatta has more than 25 years experience in the academia, private sector and regulation and supervision sectors across Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, IFSB said. He is a member of the Accounting and Auditing Board of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI, based in Bahrain), and has chaired various working groups on IBF financial accounting standards. regulation and supervision.
IFSB has a global membership of more than 180 organisations that include Asian Development Bank, Bank for International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, West African Development Bank and the World Bank.