Watchdog touts Germany as Islamic finance base
Germany wants to establish itself as a market for financial products that conform with Islamic
law, the head of German financial regulator said on Thursday. 'We are seeing great interest
from investors in Islamic countries, who want to invest their money in Germany according to
shariah principles,' Bafin president Jochen Sanio said at a conference on Islamic finance in
Frankfurt. Shariah, or Islamic law, requires investments to be based on a specific asset and
bans excessive speculation, interest-based lending and gambling, alcohol and
pornography-related activities. Germany makes it easy to obtain a licence to sell the products,
which are also compatible with the country's financial rules.
'We hope to soon welcome the first interested party that wants to start offering these products,'
Sanio said. Though no financial institution has made the move so far, Germany's 4.3 million
Muslims, mainly from Turkey, represent a market with bigger potential than in any other
Ireland outlines tax laws for Shariah-compliant products
Ireland, like other European countries, is warming to Islamic finance and Dublin has emerged
as an Islamic investment fund rival to the Channel Islands and Luxembourg. Indeed several
Shariah-compliant funds are registered there, including the Oasis Crescent Global Equity
Fund which is based in Dublin and so is the planned CIMB Global Islamic Equity Fund which
is due to be launched over the next month or so. Last week the Irish Revenue Service, the tax
authorities, outlined in detail the tax treatment of Shariah-compliant products and structures
for the funds, leasing and Takaful (Islamic insurance) industries.
Part 27 of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 governs the taxation of funds. Chapter
1A of that Part applies the gross-roll-up taxation regime to all funds set up after March 31,
2000. According to the Revenue Service, the regime does not impose an annual tax on the
profits of the fund but requires the fund/fund manager to deduct and account for tax out of
payments made to unit holders - except for certain classes of unit holder who can, by use of a
declaration procedure, be paid gross. Provided the fund is constituted in accordance with
Chapter 1A, these arrangements apply irrespective of whether the fund is a Shariah-compliant
fund or a conventional fund.
Any income received by a service provider, which is linked to the profits or performance of a
fund should be treated as fee income where it relates to duties performed by the service
provider. There is no specific VAT exemption for funds but would depend on the activities of
There is no stamp duty on the issuance or redemption of units/shares in a fund. In
addition, the transfer of units/shares in a fund is not chargeable to stamp duty to the extent that