UK – Still an attractive destination for non-doms?

Moore Stephens in partnership with The Middle East Association hosted a business briefing entitled “UK – Still an attractive destination for non-doms?” on Monday 3 October. Moore Stephens partners Michael Simms and Simon Baylis, provided an overview of the taxation of non-UK domiciliaries and IHT on UK residential property.

Sheikh Bilal Khan, Co-Chairman of Dome Advisory and Special Adviser to the Chairman & CEO of the MEA, provided the audience with an overview of the Islamic finance industry and the role UK has played in its development. Being uniquely positioned as both an English qualified lawyer and a Shari'ah scholar, he discussed the commonalities between English law and Shari'ah law which naturally lead the former being the choice of law governing most Islamic financial transactions globally. He referred to the four cornerstones which are vital in making UK a global Islamic finance hub along with Malaysia, UAE and Bahrain and indeed a blueprint for other financial centres like Kazakhstan to follow suit. These key pillars are political will, enabling legal framework, human resource development and the necessary financial institutions.

He then went to some detail in discussing the key drivers behind structuring Islamic financial products and the attraction of UK for Islamic investors including the sovereign wealth funds who are increasingly looking at diversifying their investments and becoming are more inclined to Islamic finance. Tax structuring, English common law, English language, London as a seat of arbitration, the London Stock Exchange, relative stability of the UK economy and the business-friendly environment are some of the reasons for Islamic investments into the UK. He also discussed the ongoing systemic problems with mainstream conventional finance leading to one after another global financial crisis. Sheikh Bilal discussed the disasters of an unwarranted bias for debt financing over equity financing, the lack of risk-reward sharing, a complete disconnect with the real economy, over-leveraged assets, financial inter-mediation becoming 'casino financing' and paper-based fiat money being treated as a commodity without having any real intrinsic value. He urged for more ethics in economics which is one of the key factors behind the rise of Islamic finance especially in developed countries. Sheikh Bilal discussed further untapped potential of Islamic finance for both the UK market and other global economies provided the so-called captains of industry strictly adhered to both the letter and spirit of its ethico-legal basis and that innovation did not mean heralding a new phase of over-engineered structures in order to achieve economic outcomes similar to the conventional industry albeit packaged differently.

For more information about this event, please contact Simon Bailys or Mike Simms.

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