Profit-sharing investment accounts in Islamic banks: Regulatory problems and possible solutions

Archer, Simon; Karim, Rifaat Ahmed Abdel
September 2009
Journal of Banking Regulation;Sep2009, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p300
Academic Journal
As interest-bearing deposits are not permitted by the rules and principles of the Islamic Shari’ah, Islamic banks typically raise deposits in the form of profit-sharing investment accounts. These accounts differ from conventional deposits not merely by virtue of the profit-sharing nature of the returns they offer, but also because the contact between the depositors and the bank is not a debt contract, and the deposits are in consequence not ‘capital certain’ (that is, the depositors are required to accept negative returns or losses). This latter characteristic leads to serious regulatory problems in jurisdictions where bank deposits are required by legal definition to be ‘capital certain’. More generally, the presence of such ‘puttable instruments’ in the capital structure of Islamic banks leads to complications in assessing their capital adequacy. In addition, the fact that the profit-sharing investment account holders are a type of equity investor without the governance rights of either creditors or shareholders raises a major problem of supervision. This article explains these problems in further detail, and proposes a solution in the form of a structural distinction between the Islamic bank in the narrow sense on the one hand, and the entity that manages the profit-sharing investment accounts on the other hand.


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