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Iran: Foreign Banks Encouraged to Open Branches

(Sept. 18, 2009) The Council of Ministers approved new regulations to encourage foreign banks to do business in Iran. The new regulations, organized in four parts and totaling 13 articles, are dated March 18, 2009, and entitled “The Executive By-Law on the Manner of Establishment and Operations of Branches of Foreign Banks in Iran.” They were circulated to foreign banks in a move to increase their banking activities in Iran. This is the first time since the 1979 revolution that branches of foreign banks will be allowed to open customer accounts in the country; previously those banks had been permitted to carry on only limited activities in specific zones. According to these recent regulations, a foreign bank that has been active for at least five years can establish branches in Iran, provided that the bank's activities during the past three years have been profitable.

Qualified banks must provide a minimum of five million euros or the equivalent in other major currencies as their basic capital. The regulations authorize the Central Bank of Iran to revise the minimum capital requirement in the course of foreign bank operations in Iran. The Central Bank will ensure that the foreign banks observe the Islamic banking code. (Iran Opens Doors to Foreign Banks, FARS NEWS AGENCY, Apr. 20, 2009, WORLD NEWS CONNECTION No. 200904201477.1_bb020040773db8ee (subscription database).)