Driving a New Knowledge Frontier: Islamic Financial Criminology

 

Alhamdulillah we have gone through the first five years (2010 – 2015) as a Higher Institutions’ Centre of Excellence (HICoE).  It was indeed a great and eventful five years for all of us at ARI. As I see it, we have grown from being a “generalist” during our first few years of formation (in early 2000s) to a “specialist” in our newfound research niche Islamic Financial Criminology (IFC).  We have successfully mobilised our diverse research centres – Asian Management Accounting Research Centre (AMARC), Financial Reporting Research Centre (FRRC), Corporate Governance Research Centre (CGRC), Public Sector Accounting Research Centre (PSARC), Asia-Pacific Sustainability Research Centre (APCeS), Asia-Pacific Forensic Accounting Research Centre (AFARE) and Islamic Accounting and Muamalat Research Centre (IAMRC) to realign their research focus towards Islamic Financial Criminology.  When we were first assigned with Islamic Financial Criminology as a HICoE research niche agenda, it was just a concept which comprised two main domains – Islamic Finance and Financial Criminology.  We deliberated among ourselves, engaged with professionals within the Islamic Finance Sector and the Financial Criminology experts and found that Islamic Financial Criminology is indeed a new knowledge frontier and ARI can certainly champion it. 

In tandem with the government’s aspiration to make Malaysia a global Islamic Finance Hub, ARI’s research in Islamic Financial Criminology is not just timely, but extremely crucial to support a sustainable Islamic Finance Industry.  Fundamentally, research in Islamic Financial Criminology focuses on three important aspects: (i) Identification of new Islamic Finance products as well as innovating existing products; the current focus is mainly on Islamic banking (ii) Development of suitable governance structure for the Islamic Finance Industry, which should include shari’ah compliance and audit; and (iii) Establishment of anti-financial leakages mechanisms – i.e. financial fraud prevention and anti-money laundering programs.  In doing its research in Islamic Financial Criminology, ARI HICoE develops four research clusters, namely (i) Islamic-based Business Model in Enhancing Good Governance and Wealth Creation; (ii) Corporate Integrity, Ethics , Anti-Corruption and Risk Management; (iii) Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Fraud Mechanisms to Mitigate Financial Leakages; and (iv) Methodologies in Financial Fraud Detection and Prevention. 

Through the four research clusters, ARI has produced some “early-win” research output.  Firstly, Islamic Microfinance research project which was initially embarked in Tanjung Karang through the Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) Sahabat is now replicated in Kuala Terengganu and Paka.  ARI has successfully linked the entrepreneurs with Mydin Holding Berhad, who acts as both supplier of raw materials and buyer of their finished goods.  We have helped microcredit entrepreneurs to increase their income and quality of life through Islamic microfinance initiative.  Secondly, through a smart collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (IIM), ARI has developed an instrument which measures corporate integrity at workplaces.  To date, organizations that have successfully used the instrument include Celcom Berhad, TNB Berhad, Amanahraya Berhad, KPJ Group of Companies, UDA and MARA group of companies.  Corporate Integrity Questionnaire is now made available online by IIM.  Thirdly, ARI has forged university-industry collaborations with enforcement agencies such as Royal Malaysia Police, Royal Malaysia Customs, Inland Revenue Board, Registry of Societies, Companies Commission of Malaysia, Financial Intelligence and Enforcement Department of Bank Negara Malaysia, Compliance Officer Networking Group and Institute of Banks in Malaysia to conduct research and conferences related to financial crime and money laundering.  One yearly landmark conference co-organised by ARI with these agencies is the International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing. The conference is generally attended by between 500- 1000 industry players both at the national and international levels.

The years 2014 and 2015 have produced some commendable results for ARI.  In 2014, ARI was awarded the prestigious Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA 2014 in Dubai) as “Best Islamic Finance Education Provider” for its four postgraduate programmes: Master is Islamic Finance & Muamalat, Master is Financial Criminology, PhD in Islamic Finance & Muamalat and PhD in Financial Criminology.  In 2015, ARI again was awarded Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA 2015 – Bahrain) as “Pioneering Islamic Financial Criminology Research 2015”.  At the end of 2015, ARI received another prestigious international award from industry-based online magazine Acquisition Finance Magazine (ACQ) which is based in the United Kingdom – ACQ Awards 2015 for “Islamic Financial Criminology Research Body of the Year”.  For both awards in 2015, ARI niche research agenda Islamic Financial Criminology has been recognized globally as a new knowledge frontier for the Islamic Finance Industry.  I wish to thank all of you – research fellows, research associate, UiTM top management, Institute of Research Management  and all our staff for all your hard work, dedication and commitment.  Insya Allah, lets pray that we can bring ARI HICoE and Universiti Teknologi MARA to greater heights in years to come.