EghtesadOnline: The Money and Credit Council – a decision-making body– has raised the minimum capital requirement for the establishment of banks in free trade zones from the previous €25 million to €150 million.
The new standard has been set to help ensure capital cushions for the offshore lenders against possible risks and also enhance their operations and future growth.
The council has also restricted the permit to conduct international banking operations only to banks and their subsidiary units.
“No other [non-bank] financial institution is allowed to conduct international operations,” according to a statement published on the Central Bank of Iran website on Sunday.
According to Financial Tribune, currently, there are seven free trade zones in Iran. The parliament is studying a government proposal for launching seven more free trade zones across the country. The proposal envisions launching FTZs in Golestan, Ilam, Ardebil, Sistan-Balouchestan, Kurdestan, Hormozgan and Boushehr provinces.
As per law, foreigners are allowed to own up to 40% of bank shares in the mainland while in the free zones they can open banks with 100% equity.
The government is providing tax exemption and easier visa regulations for work in the free trade and industrial areas to facilitate business activities for foreign business and their workers.
The CBI is currently reviewing 18 applications for the operation of private banks in the free zones. The applications have been put forward by Iranian investors. The CBI has approved some of the proposals as they met its capital requirement standards. It is reported that the first offshore bank is due to open in Kish Free Trade Zone.
Talks have also been held with the UAE for opening banks in Aras Free Trade-Industrial Zone in East Azarbaijan Province. Chinese and Russian banks have also shown interest in opening offices in the Qeshm free areas in the Persian Gulf.