Banks seizing dormant accounts against Shariah

Updated 05 October 2012
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Banks seizing dormant accounts against Shariah

JEDDAH: Shariah experts on financial matters declare that local banks are committing a crime by seizing the deposits in accounts that had not been accessed in the past five years.
The experts demand that agencies such as the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) take action against such violations of both Shariah principles and rules of international banking.
They made this demand while reacting to a recent media report that banks in the Kingdom seized the deposits in dormant accounts that were not operated for the past five years.
The report quoted Secretary-General of the Media and Awareness Committee of Saudi Banks Talat Hafiz as saying that the banks have been converting the deposits in dormant accounts to a special account for their own investments. Hafiz refused to disclose the amount involved in such operations.
Economic Consultant and Member of the Islamic Economy and Financing Commission Yusuf Al-Zamil said a bank seizing its client’s deposits in the event of the client's whereabouts not being known or absence is a clear violation of Shariah law.
“International banking regulations do not permit confiscation of clients deposits under any situation. If a bank takes possession of money in the account of a person and invests its in some projects, it should be under certain conditions. The money should be returned with a share of the profit to the account holder when he or she is traced. The other condition is that if the deposit is an Islamic banking account, the investment should be in Shariah-compliant projects,” Al-Zamil said.
While experts believe that banks might have appropriated hundreds of millions of riyals in dormant accounts, bank authorities refuse to disclose how much money they have earned from those accounts.
Al-Zamil appealed to SAMA to demand from local banks to convince account holders to have secret codes for their accounts or to have banks classify files of account holders as confidential. This way, only the person who would bring that code to the bank could access his account. The account holder should also inform his heir of the secret code or write it down.
“It is the Prophet's Sunnah that a man should tell his heirs where his wealth is and how it could be accessed,” he said.
Associate Professor of Comparative Fiqh at the Higher Institute of Justice Yusuf Al-Qassim also declared the move of the local banks to appropriate money of its customers in dormant accounts as haram (unlawful).
“No local bank is permitted to seize the wealth of a depositor or investor in kind or cash and so such practices are criminal. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘A Muslim’s wealth is not lawful to others without his permission’.”
Al-Qassim said it is unlawful for a bank to seize the deposit of an account holder, even if the bank stipulated at the time of opening the account that it has the right to appropriate the account holder’s money if he did not operate the account for a long period. Such a stipulation is not legally valid because the client agrees to it only under compulsion.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 19 April 2018
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.