LONDON Jan 29 One of the most high-profile
advisory firms in Islamic finance, Dar Al Istithmar, which
advised Goldman Sachs on a controversial $2 billion sukuk
programme, has closed down with most of its staff moving to
another company, sources told Reuters.
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.
It has now been shut after most of its personnel moved to
Khalij Islamic, another investment and advisory firm with
offices in London and Dubai, said the sources, who are familiar
with the matter.
Officials at companies involved declined to speak publicly
and it was not clear why Dar had 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 sharia board of Khalij lists former sharia scholars at
Dar, Hussain Hamed Hassan, Ali Al Qaradaghi and Aznan Hassan,
who are some of the world's most sought-after scholars. Sharia
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 licence 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.
Some clients of Dar have also moved to Khalij with the
management team, one source told Reuters.