T he concept of beneficial ownership has long been established in Anglo-American common law through the development of trust law aiming at distinguishing beneficial ownership from legal ownership. Unlike the common law, civil law does not have provisions for trust that forms the basis for the introduction of beneficial ownership in common law. Today, as Islamic banking and finance grows exponentially, the issue of beneficial ownership has become the centre of debate, among many stakeholders particularly Shariah scholars who are points of reference on the Shariah compliance of all activities of Islamic banking and finance. Despite much attention given to this issue gaps remain.
This article examines beneficial ownership focusing on its characteristics and attributes in Shariah. It also examines selected Shariah concepts that share similar attributes of beneficial ownership under English common law.
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