Citigroup has appointed Rafe Haneef as head of Islamic banking for Citigroup Asia. The newly created role will be based in Kuala Lumpur.

Haneef will be instrumental in heading a team to develop and grow CitigroupÆs Islamic banking business across the region. He will focus on key markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei.

Previously the head of Islamic banking at ABN AMRO, based in Dubai, Haneef has an established track record in Islamic finance.

While at ABN, he was responsible for structuring a variety of innovative Islamic transactions in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. HaneefÆs appointment is part of a number of recent appointments by Citigroup in 2006 as part of its plans to further invest in its global Islamic banking franchise.

ôWe are pleased to have Rafe on board,ö says Piyush Gupta, country officer for Malaysia and CEO of Citibank Berhad. ôHe brings tremendous experience and increased credibility to the Islamic business for Citigroup. He is well respected in the market and we expect he will play a key role in building Malaysia as our regional hub and expanding the Citigroup Islamic business footprint in Asia,ö

CitigroupÆs Islamic operations commenced in 1981 and in 1996 Citigroup was the first international institution to set up a separate Islamic Bank; Citi Islamic Investment Bank (CIIB). Citigroup commenced offering Islamic banking services in Malaysia in the mid 1990s.

ôThe Islamic Banking industry is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing among all banking sectors worldwide,ö says Mohsin Nathani, CEO of Citi Islamic Investment bank in Dubai. ôWith Kuala Lumpur developing as an Islamic financial centre and Malaysia having over 50% of the global market share of Islamic fixed income, Kuala Lumpur is a natural choice to act as the Asian hub.ö

Haneef is a qualified lawyer, and a graduate of the International Islamic University, Malaysia and Harvard University.