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EghtesadOnline: The rating process for Iranian banks will commence in late October and lenders will be classified into four main groups, said the Central Bank of Iran's deputy for supervisory affairs.

"From the eighth month of the fiscal year (starting October 22), banks will be rated and classified under four categorie, namely 'without visible risk', 'low-risk', ' average risk' and 'high risk'," Farshad Heydari told the 27th Annual Islamic Banking Conference.

"Ratings will be based on [banks'] financial statements and field studies, although for efficient supervision, other entities and agencies must have an active cooperation with the CBI to instill a balance in the banking system," The official website of the CBI quoted him as saying.

The rating of banks has long been overdue, considering that certain unruly banks and rogue financial institutions had in the past decade disrupted the money market, giving the whole banking system a bad name among the public.

In mid-July, representatives from international rating agencies visited Tehran to begin negotiations regarding the rating of Iranian banks and companies. At the time, the head of Monetary and Banking Research Institute Ali Divandari emphasized the importance of the ratings by credible international agencies, calling it a prerequisite to normal ties between Iranian and major international banks.

According to Ahmad Hatami Yazd, a former senior banker, Iranian private entities lack the capability to access information from banks in order to rate them, not least because the banks are unwilling to share much of their information.

"But the CBI and its monitoring division have unhindered authority to access and analyze all monetary data; therefore the CBI is the only body that has the competence and qualification to rate the banks in Iran."

Heydari emphasized the importance of an independent watchdog for the CBI, saying the supervisory apparatus should have institutional, political, monitoring, operational and budgetary independence in order to be able to resist pressures and take the lead in improving the performance of the banking system, reports Financial Tribune.

Robust supervision of the banking sector, Heydari added, will in turn lead to the "stability of the monetary system."

A New Paradigm

The official bemoaned the lack of an efficient supervisory system, saying this had turned into a challenge for the CBI and the rule of law. "However, CBI has devised a paradigmatic model which draws upon the latest achievements of global banking supervision in order to reach an effective level of oversight.

The main activities of lenders, their non-banking ventures and profitability, as well as their capabilities in fulfilling their commitments are among the areas facing the regulator's scrutiny, according to Heydari.

The CBI will also oversee the quality of banks' resources and revenues, their adherence to corporate governance principles and transparency of information.

"Such points will be measured based on 185 different indicators", he said.

 Highlighting the major concerns of the banking system and the necessity of independence for the Supervision Department of the CBI, Heyadari referred to non-performing loans, overdrafts and a lack of adherence to standards as being among the main problems of the banking system

"If we want to have banking relations on an international scale through a common language, we need to have an all-encompassing supervisory regime," he said.

Stressing that the capital adequacy ratio in the banking system is not satisfactory, he said the CBI has decreed a minimum of 8% ratio for banks, but they often fall short of meeting that threshold.

The official also called for depositors' rights as major beneficiaries to be respected and upheld in the banking system.

"Currently financial statements are mainly issued with shareholders in mind, leaving depositors out of the picture; this is while the depositors are the main holders of banks' resources," he said.

CBI Iranian banks Central Bank of Iran Farshad Heydari rating process