Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sukuk Failing in Malasia

MALAYSIAN property developer IJM Land may scrap plans to sell Islamic bonds and take out a loan instead to refinance borrowings, a source close to the matter said today.

Syariah bond issuance in Southeast Asia’s most developed Islamic finance market has been virtually frozen by worries about a global recession and sliding asset values, shattering earlier beliefs the industry would escape the downturn largely unscathed.

Islamic bond issuance in Malaysia fell to US$5.86 billion last year, compared with US$26.53 billion in 2007, according to Islamic Finance Information Service. IJM Land, the property arm of infrastructure group IJM Corp, wants to raise about RM300 million-RM400 million, said the source who declined to be identified.

“The market is so volatile it’s kind of difficult to do a bond at this kind of time,” said the source. “Taking a straight loan is much easier than doing a bond. The market risk for bonds, especially for developers, at the current time is kind of challenging.” IJM group managing director Krishnan Tan Boon Seng was not available for comment.

IJM Land had earlier wanted to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, to tap growing investor demand in Malaysia for syariah-compliant paper. Top Malaysian lender Maybank has estimated that sukuk accounted for more than half of the RM47 billion of corporate bonds that were issued in the country last year.

The Rest @ Business Times

Hawala Facilitates Human Trafficking Ring in Greece and Pakistan

Monday, January 19, 2009
By Salman Aslam

The Federal Investigation Agency has arrested three human traffickers -- including the two guilty of a failed attempt to smuggle 13 Pakistanis to Greece, who suffocated in a container in a district adjoining Istanbul on July 30 last -- The News learnt Saturday.

Sources said Mehdi Khan, s/o Muhammad Khan, caste Gujjar, a resident of PO Qila Sora Singh Tehsil, Gujrat district, was one of the arrested, who is an accused in the suffocation case. His name appears at serial number 5 on the Red Book list.

The investigators during interrogation came to know that Mehdi Khan was a general councillor, Union Council Barrila Sharif, Gujrat district.

His two younger brothers
  • Safdar Ali, 40, and
  • M Afzal, 35,

live in Greece. A sister of the accused is married to Sana Ullah, a resident of Gaigian, Gujrat district, who is also a human trafficker.

Out of the seven children, his three elder sons M Riaz, 23, M Abbas, 21, and M Namas, 16, are settled in Greece.

  • The sources said Mehdi Khan booked dozens of people for smuggling to Greece for Rs 500,000 to 600,000.
  • He used Iran-Turkey land route for the purpose. He is associated with human trafficker Haji Abdullah, s/o Agha Inayat r/o Kake Mitter, Wazirabad, Gujranwala district.
  • Haji is operating safe houses in Iran and Turkey.
  • The illegal immigrants are handed over to Haji Abdullah at Taftan on Pak-Iran border and trafficked forward through Iran.
  • The trafficking starts right from Balochistan to Iran and Turkey and illegal immigrants are further smuggled to Greece through boats.
  • Mehdi Khan was involved in FIA case numbers 27 and 34 registered with its office in Gujranwala.

A number of enquiries based on deportees’ statements are pending against him to be converted to cases. The other human trafficker arrested by the FIA has been identified as Mamoon-ur-Rasheed alias Steno s/o Subay Khan, caste Mayo, r/o Begowal, Tehsil Sambrial, Sialkot district.

His arrest had been a challenge, given his precautions. He remained a mystery for the last many years as he never met any intending immigrant, or other agent or even any member of his own network. He was arrested on Jan 14, 2009. A case was registered with Sadar Kamoke Police Station against him, his brother Javed and two others — Basharat and Jameel.

The accused also resorted to firing to avoid arrest. The sources informed The News that Mamoon was involved in human trafficking from Pakistan to Europe through land routes in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece.

He set up a network of sub-agents in the country as well as abroad. He is a trafficker wanted in the highest number of FIA cases.

The accused had got issued two Computerised National Identity Cards in the names of Mamoon and Zahid Rehman.

His three brothers are living abroad: Javed, 30, in Malaysia and Parvaiz Ahmed, 25, and Rashid Ahmed, 20, in Spain. He is involved in 15 cases registered with AHTC Police Station, Gujranwala, bearing FIR numbers 601, 613, 615, 616, 618, 764, 818, 925 of 2006 and 345, 360, 361, 362, 363, 401, 402 and 403 of 2007. Other 15 cases bearing FIR numbers 36 to 50 have now been registered with AHTC police on the basis of deportees’ statements. Owing to his frequent involvement in the illegal business and number of persons he has smuggled, his name appeared in the Red Book 2007.

How it worked

  1. The accused used to deal with intending immigrants directly or through his sub-agents demanding payment ranging from Rs 600,000 to Rs 700,000 preceded by Rs 100,000 advance payment.
  2. The illegal immigrants were handed over to other agents across the unfrequented land routes in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece.
  3. When illegal immigrants reached their destination, their families paid the remaining amount to the accused through an agent ‘Chacha Rafique’—the owner of Hawala office at Lalamusa, Gujrat district.
  4. The accused handed over intending immigrants to agents based in Karachi, whom he paid Rs15,000 for each.

The Rest @ The News International (Pakistan)