Iran to begin accepting private bank applications next week
Iran will begin accepting applications next week for the establishment of private banks with start-up capital of at least $25 million, the central bank said Monday, January 1.
But private banking will still be off-limits to foreigners as applications will only be accepted by Iranian nationals or legal entities, it said, cited by the state broadcasting website.
Parliament took the landmark decision last year to end the state monopoly in the banking sector as part of President Mohammad Khatami's five-year plan to liberalize the largely state-dominated economy.
Iran nationalized all private banks after the 1979 Islamic revolution in a bid to stop the nation's wealth from flowing out of the country.
Iran has already allowed private banking in its free-trade zones and non-banking credit institutions across the country.
Parliament had first sought to privatize up to 49 percent of state banks in line with 1950s-era legislation preventing foreigners from holding a majority stake in Iranian enterprises.
But the legislature moved to overturn the law and pave the way for both majority foreign ownership and the protection of foreign investment capital.
Applicants with more than the minimum capital amount of 200 billion rials ($25 million at the free market rate) will receive first priority, the central bank said.— (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)