Speakers

Pierre Gramegna

Minister of Finance, Luxembourg Government 

Pierre Gramegna was born on 22 April 1958 in Esch-sur-Alzette. 

Pierre Gramegna had first joined the government as Minister of Finance on 4 December 2013, after the legislative elec- tions of 20 October 2013. 

As Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna has initiated major reforms to balance the budget and to align Luxembourg’s tax rules with international transparency standards. Thanks to these efforts, Luxembourg’s AAA rating has been consis- tently confirmed by all major rating agencies and, in 2015, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes upgraded Luxembourg to “largely compliant”. Furthermore, in 2014, Pierre Gramegna established Luxembourg’s sovereign fund for the benefit of future generations. 

Following the legislative elections of 14 October 2018, Pierre Gramegna was re-appointed Minister of Finance on 5 December 2018 in the coalition government formed by the Democratic Party (DP), the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP) and the Green Party (déi gréng). 

Pierre Gramegna is also a promoter of the diversification of Luxembourg’s financial centre, in particular with regard to FinTech and sustainable finance. He is the initiator and presi- dent of the LHoFT Foundation, which runs the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology. He has also further developed bilateral relations with China in the financial sector and since he took office, four additional Chinese banks have chosen Luxembourg as their EU hub. 

Regarding his education, following his secondary school studies in Esch-sur-Alzette (classical mathematics section) Pierre Gramegna pursued studies in law and economics at the Université Panthéon- Assas (Paris II), where he was awarded a master’s degree in civil law in 1981 and a degree in economic sciences in 1982. He completed his post-university education with a DEA (post- graduate diploma of advanced studies) in European Union law. He was awarded the title of doctor honoris causa from the Sacred Heart University of Luxembourg. 

Dr Werner Hoyer

President, European Investment Bank (EIB)

Dr Werner Hoyer is the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB). He took up the post on 1 January 2012 for an initial term of six years and was re-appointed for a second term in office, with effect from 1 January 2018.

From 1994 to 1998 and then again from 1999 until 31 December 2011, he was Minister of State for Europe and Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany. From 2000 until 2005 he served as President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR).

During his service at the German Bundestag he held several positions; first as Whip and Security Policy Spokesman of the FDP (Free Democratic Party) Parliamentary Group (1987 – 1993), then subsequently as Deputy Chairman of the German-American Parliamentary Friendship Group and member of the North Atlantic Assembly (NATO). He was also Secretary General of the FDP (1993 – 1994), before becoming Minister of State at the Foreign Office. From 1998 he served as Spokesman of the FDP for Budget Affairs, from 2002 until 2009 for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the FDP Parliamentary Group.

In 1985, he took up the position as Director of the Economics and Information Department of the Carl Duisberg Society, Cologne. Two years later in 1987, he became a Member of the German Bundestag where he remained until 31 December 2011. Dr Hoyer obtained a PhD in Economics from Cologne University, Germany in 1978 and commenced his career as a senior research assistant at the Cologne University. Shortly afterwards, he was appointed as lecturer in international economic relations.

H.E. DR Bandar Hajjar

President, IsDB

Dr. Bandar M.H. Hajjar has been President of the Islamic Development Bank since 2016. As development enters a new era, Dr. Hajjar is reimagining the traditional role of a development bank. Through his strategic programme, the IsDB is empowering people for a sustainable future by building global partnerships and driving innovation through a value chain approach to development. Prior to this appointment, he served as Minister of Hajj between 2011- 2016, where he introduced 25 initiatives to develop and enhance the services provided to the Hajj and Umrah performers. 

Doctor Bandar Hajjar was awarded a bachelor's degree with First-Class Honours in Economics and Political Sciences from King Saud University, Riyadh, and a master's degree in Economics from Indiana University, USA. In 1982, he returned to Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a lecturer for four years. In 1986, he attended Loughborough University in the United Kingdom on a scholarship, where he received a Ph.D. in Economics.

Dr. Hajjar is also a Chairman at the Coordinating Council for Monitoring Municipal Elections Dr. Hajjar formed a coordinating council of seven NGOs under the umbrella of the National Society for Human Rights to monitor the first municipal elections held in Saudi Arabia in 2005. The Council deployed approximately 1,500 volunteer citizens to all cities in the Kingdom and issued daily statements in both Arabic and English explaining the election instructions, regulations, and outcomes.

Dr. Hajjar was appointed Acting Minister of Culture and Information in addition to his responsibilities as Minister of Hajj for approximately one month and a half until a new minister of culture and information was in place.

Dr. Hajjar has served as a member of several national and international bodies, including the Board of Trustees of Takaful Charity Organization, which sponsors orphans and needy students, the World Council for Supporting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Disabled Children Association, and the World Islamic Council for Economy and Finance.

Ron Akram

Head of Advisory Board of Wethaq

Ron Akram heads the Wethaq advisory board and leads markets and regulatory structuring and implementation. He has eighteen years of institutional advisory experience (as a global markets banker and UK/New York attorney prior to that). Educated at King’s College, London (LL.B), Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (Maitrise in Law) and London Business School (Masters in Finance).

His Royal Highness Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

14th Emir of Kano

His Royal Highness Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is the 14th Emir of Kano, and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. As Governor, he was named Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa by ‘The Banker’, a global financial intelligence magazine published in the Financial Times. In his role as the Emir of Kano, he serves as the leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order in Nigeria, historically the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria.

Zamir Iqbal

Vice President, Finance and CFO, IsDB

Zamir Iqbal is Vice President, Finance, and Chief Financial Officer at the Islamic Development Bank. Previously, he headed World Bank’s Global Islamic Finance Development Center in Istanbul, with earlier assignments in the World Bank Treasury and the Finance and Markets Global Practice. His experience spans the capital markets, asset management and risk management. Islamic finance has been his research focus, and he has co-authored articles and books on Islamic finance on the topics of banking risk, financial inclusion, economic development, financial stability and risk-sharing. He played a central role in the World Bank’s and IsDB’s first global reporting on Islamic finance.

He earned his Ph.D. in international finance from the George Washington University and served as professional faculty at the Carey Business School of Johns Hopkins University.

Arshadur Rahman

Manager, Sterling Markets Division, Bank of England

Arshadur Rahman is the Bank of England’s subject matter expert on Islamic finance, and a manager in the Sterling Markets Division. He co-authored a 2007 regulatory paper on Islamic finance, and spent over a decade with the FSA as a supervisor of regulated firms, including Islamic banks. Since 2015, he has led the Bank’s work to establish a non-interest-based deposit facility. Once launched, this will allow Islamic banks to hold deposits at the central bank, providing them with greater flexibility in meeting Basel III capital and liquidity rules. Arshadur holds a first degree in Psychology, and an MSc in Finance from the London Business School.

John Arentz

Head of Treasury at Majid Al Futtaim Holding LLC

John joined Majid Al Futtaim from Australia in November 2017 as Head of Treasury where he is responsible for all funding, investor relations and credit rating relationships, liquidity & cash management and financial risk management.

Prior to joining Majid Al Futtaim, John was General Manager Treasury and Planning at Stockland Property Group from December 2012 until October 2017. In this role, John was responsible for all debt funding, debt investor relations, crediting rating relationships, liquidity management, financial risk management, financial planning for Group M&A, including asset acquisition or disposal and asset portfolio review.

Prior to joining Stockland, John was Treasurer at Australand Property Group from July 2008 until October 2012 and previously Treasurer at Newcastle Permanent Building Society where he was employed for four years.

John has more than twenty years experience working in the financial markets, including a number of banks, such as Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi for two years, being responsible for derivative and foreign exchange spot pricing and Tokai Bank for eight years being responsible for all aspects of balance sheet management and foreign exchange.

Laurent Marochini

Head of Innovation at Societe Generale Securities Services

Since 2018, Laurent is also Head of the Innovation Lab #LePlateauLux and Blockchain Leader for Societe Generale Securities Services.

Prior to joining SGSS, Laurent has held various management positions in the banking sector in particular in BNP Paribas Securities Services and Credit Suisse Private Banking. He joined Societe Generale in 2006 as a Risk Manager.

Laurent is highly involved in the Fintech ecosystem. He is also Co-Chairman of the ALFI Working Group Blockchain & Crypto Currencies and Member of the Fintech & Digital Executive Committee.

The all industry has recognized Laurent as :

  • Top 4 Fintech Leader of the year for the Luxembourg by Finance Awards (2017)
  • Top 21 Regtech worldwide Leader by Medici (2018)
  • Twice awarded 2nd Worldwide Best Innovation Maker of Societe Generale (2015-2016).

Marina Petrović

Alternative Finance Expert at UNDP

Marina is one of the Alternative Finance Lab and Crowdfunding Academy founders, working mostly with blockchain, impact investment, and investment crowdfunding projects that can assist in addressing economic, societal and environmental facets of community growth.

Marina is super excited when talking about innovation and connecting different dots from more creative and interdisciplinary perspective. Her main focus are alternative financing models, mostly blockchain, crowdfunding and investment crowdfunding projects that can assist in addressing economic, societal and environmental facets of community growth.

She set up and developed RES energy youth network, SEYN ("Sustainable Energy Youth Network"), with now counting more than 1500 members, that focuses on creating a future based on sustainable energy through social and cooperative approach, via engagement of young people.

Robert Scharfe

CEO of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange

Robert Scharfe is the CEO of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange since 2012 and he is a member of the Board of directors of the Federation of European Securities Exchanges as well as the Chairman of the Nomination Committee of the World Federation of Exchanges.

He’s a recognized expert in Capital Markets matters and a specialist in Green finance.

Before joining the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, he spent 35 years in the Banking industry, mostly in Corporate Finance and Financial Markets. Between 2000 and 2012 he was a Member of the Management Board of BGL BNP Paribas in Luxembourg. During that time he also assumed senior responsibilities within Fortis Bank in the areas of Institutional Banking and Global Markets.

During his banking career, he acquired extensive knowledge in International Capital Markets and gained solid experience in Asset Management and Investment Funds.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Nancy and he is an alumnus of Insead and Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palo Alto.

Khalid Howladar

Chief Strategy & Risk Officer at Blossom Finance

Khalid Howladar is the Chief Strategy & Risk Officer at Blossom Finance, as well as the Managing Director and Founder of Acreditus. With twenty five years experience in risk and ratings, he is a trusted authority in the fields of GCC risk, banking, structured and sukuk finance as well as a prominent voice in the Islamic capital markets. He is a key driver in promoting the ethical, social and financial inclusion underpinnings of Islamic / Participation Finance and has an active angel investment and advisory interest in various startups.

Previously, Khalid spent 15 years at Moody’s Investor’s Service in various key roles in London and then Dubai since 2008.  As Moody’s first Global Head of Islamic Finance and concurrently, Khalid was the regional Head/Senior Vice President for the GCC Banking team responsible for rating a diverse portfolio of around 60 financial institutions. He was also a Credit Co-Chair for the European, Middle East & Africa Banking team and a senior member in GCC Sovereign and Sukuk committees.

Prior to these leadership roles, he was an analyst in the structured finance team responsible for rating over $150 billion of Middle-Eastern securitizations and a diverse mix of cash, synthetic, high yield, asset-backed and project finance CDOs. Previously Khalid spent four years at Credit Suisse where he was a member of the Emerging Markets Fixed Income Risk team.

With his global perspectives, he is a recognized authority across multiple fields and has presented at the World Bank, IMF, ECB, IIF, IsDB, IFSB and AMF and lectured for London and Edinburgh Business Schools, NYU and Sorbonne Abu Dhabi. He holds a MSc and a BEng in Computing from Imperial College and a MSc in Finance from London Business School.

Farnam Bidgoli

Head of Sustainable Bonds at HSBC

Farnam Bidgoli is the Head of Sustainable Bonds at HSBC, where she works on providing tailored green, sustainable bonds structuring advice. Her focus is on sustainability, ESG and businesses. Farnam has previously worked as a manager at Sustainalytics, an investment research firm that specialises in environmental, social and governance (ESG).

Following that, she has worked as a senior adviser at Oxford Microfinance Initiative, where she advised on the ACBA Credit Agricole on expansion strategy for its services for female entrepreneurs. She attended the University of Toronto and received a bachelor’s degree in international relations, peace and conflict studies. She also holds an M.B.A from the University of Oxford.

Vineeta Tan

Managing Editor of REDmoney Group

Vineeta Tan is the Managing Editor of Islamic Finance news (IFN), the world’s leading Islamic finance news provider, and IFN Fintech, the industry’s first and only publication dedicated to fintech for Islamic finance. A multimedia journalist with almost a decade of experience in the journalism and publishing industry working independently and leading a team, Vineeta specializes in ethical and Islamic finance as well as fintech reporting and analysis, covering regions including the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

As Managing Editor of IFN, she is responsible for the editorial direction and business development of IFN and its sister publications in addition to authoring reports, producing podcasts and conducting video interviews. She has interviewed senior industry players, key stakeholders and senior dignitaries including the finance/economic ministers of Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, among others. Vineeta is also a regular in the international conference circuit as both a moderator and speaker. Trained in journalism and sociology, Vineeta holds an Islamic Finance Qualification awarded by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments in the UK.

Alex Roussos

Partner at Dentons

Alex joined Dentons as a capital markets partner in October 2013 having previously worked at Norton Rose in Dubai and Clifford Chance in London and Dubai. He is an expert in debt, hybrid and equity-linked capital markets transactions (both conventional and Islamic).

Alex's broad experience has seen him advising governments and government-related entities, all major investment banking clients and large corporate entities across the Middle East on matters including Medium Term Note, convertible bond, hybrid capital and Sukuk issuances and structured finance deals, as well as listings on local and international stock exchanges. Alex is also a leading practitioner in the field of regulatory capital and has acted on some of the most high profile deals in this space in the GCC.

Michael Bennett

Head, Derivatives & Structured Finance, Capital Markets, Treasury at World Bank

Michael leads the team that is responsible for structured note issuance, all derivatives related to funding, structure finance transactions for the Bank and its clients (including catastrophe bonds and swaps, carbon emission rights linked bonds, sukuk (Islamic bonds) for IFFIm and project linked bonds) as well as monetization of certified emissions reductions as agent for the United Nations’ Adaptation Fund.

Michael has spent sixteen years with the Bank, including five years (2006-2010) in the Bank’s Paris office. Prior to joining the Bank, Michael worked for Chase and Lehman Brothers in structured finance and two international law firms in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

He holds a doctoral degree in Law, with a specialization in international and comparative law, from Columbia University in New York. 

Ummahani Amin

Managing Partner at the Metropolitan Law Firm

Ummahani Amin is the Managing Partner at the Metropolitan Law Firm. Prior to founding the Metropolitan Law Firm, she was the General Counsel to Northbridge Investment and Trust.

Ms Amin’s areas of interest are Intellectual Property Law, Trusts, Capital Market Law, Communication Laws, Environmental Law, Oil and Gas Law, Islamic personal Law and Islamic Financial Laws. She is also qualified as a PPP Expert from the Institute of Public Private Partnership (IP3) Washington.

Ms Amin has significant experience in legal transactions in the areas of Corporate Finance, Privatization, Private Placements and Bonds. She has represented clients in commercial litigation, private wealth management especially in the area of Islamic personal Law.

Mohammed Paracha

Head of Islamic Finance, Middle East and Africa at Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP

Mohammed Paracha is a banking lawyer based in Dubai and is also the Head of our Islamic finance practice for the Middle East and Africa.

Mohammed focuses on Islamic financial and banking transactions and has a broad range of transactional experience. Mohammed’s main area of skills is with cross-border transactions where he advises clients across a broad range of asset classes and industry sectors.

His transactions are predominantly asset related involving real estate, ships, aircraft and project assets or complex structured transactions in new markets where tax, legal and Shariah principles need to be navigated in order to deliver optimum returns to Islamic investors.

Mohammed advised the sponsors TAV Havalimanlari Holding A.S, Saudi Oger Limited and Al Rajhi Holdings (the TIBAH Consortium) on the financing and construction of the US$1.2 billion expansion of Madinah Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is the first full PPP (Public Private Partnership) project in Saudi Arabia and one of the largest infrastructure projects in the Middle East in 2012.

Mohammed trained and qualified with our practice and gained international recognition for his work as the sole legal member of the Bank of England’s committee on Islamic finance where he assisted the UK Government in establishing London as an international Islamic finance hub.

Mohammed is recognised as a key individual by Chambers Global Directory 2017, which comments "Dubai-based Mohammed Paracha is a respected practitioner with a specialist focus on Islamic finance in the Middle East region. Market sources describe him as a "solid finance lawyer" and a "very good name in the market"."

Mohammed is a regular speaker at conferences and has appeared on various news media talking about Islamic finance and related topical issues.

Ashraf Ammar

Director at PwC Luxembourg

Ashraf Ammar is the director of PwC Luxembourg where he focuses on ethical investment, Islamic finance as well as asset screening when it comes to Environment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Ashraf is also a founding and board member of the Islamic Finance Professional Association (IFPA). Before this Ashraf worked in Deloitte with a special focus on Cross-Border Tax.

He attended Ain Shams University where he acquired a Bachelor of Commerce and Accounting. He also holds a Masters in Financial Controller and Financial Management from the American Academy for Financial Management.  

Denise Voss

Chairwoman, LuxFlag

Denise Voss is the Chairwoman of LuxFLAG

Previously she was the Chairwoman of ALFI, the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry between 2015 and 2019.

Denise was the Conducting Officer of Franklin Templeton Investments, and has worked in the financial industry in Luxembourg since 1990. She joined Franklin Templeton Investments in 1995 and is was the Conducting Officer and board member of Franklin Templeton International Services S.à r.l., a Luxembourg-based management company, managing both UCITS and AIFs, in and outside of the EU.

Prior to joining Franklin Templeton Investments, she worked in the audit division of Coopers & Lybrand in Boston, USA and Luxembourg for over 9 years. Denise holds a Massachusetts C.P.A. license and obtained an undergraduate degree from Tufts University, as well as a masters degree in accountancy from Bentley College.

Nida Khan

Doctoral Researcher

Nida Khan is the developer of two pioneering technological tools for the Islamic finance industry. She is credited with the development of a new blockchain consensus mechanism, FAST, for high performance blockchains. Her other achievements include developing a decentralized app for crowdfunding of projects by donation in Ethereum, programming a chaincode in Hyperledger for the same, discovery of an anomaly and proposition of a novel mechanism for throughput enhancement in Ethereum. She has also developed a dashboard providing real time values of data changes in smart contract functions and has worked on developing a basic management plane for data-filtering and monitoring of Ethereum smart contracts.

She has dealt with blockchain-based micro-payments and is contributing as a team member of Masdin, an associate team between the University of Luxembourg and Inria, France for management of software-defined infrastructure. Nida joined the Services and Data Management in Distributed Systems group, SEDAN, headed by Dr. Habil Radu State. She is working on the financial applications of blockchain and data analytics under the supervision of Dr. Habil Radu State.

Michael Grifferty

President, Gulf Bond & Sukuk Association (GBSA)

Michael Grifferty founded and leads The Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association (GBSA) the industry association representing the Arabian Gulf fixed income market. The GBSA is composed of the region’s leading banks, law firms, issuers, ratings agencies and service providers and plays a leading role on all major matters concerning development of bond markets in the region.

Previously, Michael served as advisor for the US Treasury on sovereign debt and bond markets, advising over forty countries and regional organizations. He has also consulted extensively for the International Monetary Fund and Arab Monetary Fund.

Prior to his international career, Mr. Grifferty was a senior vice president at Government Finance Associates, providing problem-solving financial advisory services to US state and local governments. He has degrees from New York University and Georgetown University in Public Finance and International Relations, respectively. A native English speaker, Michael speaks French and Russian.