Iran

Will #Iran’s banking sector collapse?

Financial experts are warning that Iran’s banking sector is at risk of a collapse due to toxic assets. It is no secret that over the past decade all Iranian banks were negatively affected by sanctions, internal mismanagement and corruption. Another disturbing factor in the financial sector has been the presence of unlicensed financial institutions. Government interference has led to the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars of bad debts that will continue to put pressure on the balance sheets of Iranian banks for some time to come. Besides the high ratio of nonperforming loans, Iranian banks have a high portion of overvalued and illiquid assets on their balance sheets that need to be adjusted. Now several Iranian banks are following government instructions and have started to sell their noncore assets. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will have no choice but to push for bank mergers and also to impose and implement tough regulations on the country’s banks in order to prevent a deeper crisis.

Coincidental documents reveal Iranian Guard smuggled billions via Bahraini bank

Iranian owners of a Bahraini bank complained about Bahrain to an international arbitration court in the Netherlands. Bahrain responded with documents proving that $7 billion was smuggled through suspicious accounts with the consent and knowledge of the bank’s management. Future Bank was closed in 2015, but documents prove Iran’s secret assistance in evading international sanctions and smuggling billions of dollars over more than a decade. Bahraini officials criticized Future Bank for allowing the cleric Isa Qassim to make cash deposits totaling millions of dollars over several years, and directing some of the money to a charity linked to terrorism. Audits revealed then that in hundreds of cases, bank transfers were accompanied by specific instructions to avoid references to Iran or Iranian banking codes.

New Form of Islamic Bond Makes Debut at Iran Fara Bourse

The Iranian government issued 30 trillion rials (about $670 million) worth of Manfa’ah sukuk at the over-the-counter exchange Iran Fara Bourse. The 42-month bonds, bearing a maximum of 20.1% annual interest, will be backed by 51 trillion rials ($1.13 billion) of government revenues. Each Manfa’ah sukuk is priced at 1 million rials ($22.2).

#Iran developing national #cryptocurrency to bypass US sanctions

Iran has revealed that one of the country’s banks is working on a state-backed virtual currency. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted he had proposed to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency. Iran is still mostly cut off from major international payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard and services such as PayPal. The announcement on its crypto project follows Venezuela’s launch of the world’s first national digital currency the 'petro'. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the oil-backed cryptocurrency has raised the equivalent of more than $735 million. After the successful pre-sale of the petro last week, Maduro announced a new virtual token, dubbed 'petro oro', which will be backed by precious metals.

#Iran May Follow #Venezuela In Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency

Iran has announced its intent to establish a national cryptocurrency. Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, head of Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, posted in a Tweet that a test model for a cloud-based digital currency is being developed. The announcement comes after Venezuela's oil-backed "petro" cryptocurrency launch earlier this week. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims that the cryptocurrency has raised over $700 million. There are fears that the rise of state-backed cryptocurrencies could challenge international efforts to regulate financial transactions and impose sanctions. The three countries most interested in the technology, Iran, Venezuela and Russia, are all targeted by U.S. sanctions.

What Does Responsible Finance Have To Do With What Is Happening in #Iran?

In Iran more than a dozen people have been killed and thousands have been arrested in demonstrations over the last few weeks. Massive numbers of Iranians say their savings have been lost because of the collapse of poorly regulated or fraudulent institutions. According to Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution, banks are shutting down without any kind of notice. The Iranian President’s recent budget proposal decreases subsidies to the poor at a time when the spending power of Iranians is also declining. Not being able to meet day-to-day expenses, respond to emergencies or take advantage of opportunities are a significant source of stress. The client protection principles, Smart Certification and the tools developed by the Smart Campaign offer resources for stakeholders in any country. They can ensure responsible treatment of clients and thus long-term sustainability. Iran's case shows the importance of quality financial products as a part of broader financial, economic, and social development.

#Iran Seven-Year #Sukuk #Issuance at $3.7b

Seven years ago the Law of Developing Financial Instruments and Entities was passed in the parliament. Since then, more than $ 3.76 billion worth of Islamic sukuk have been issued in the Iranian capital market according to the chief executive of the Capital Market Central Asset Management Company.
"From the fiscal 2010-11 up to the end of the ninth month of the current fiscal year, 47 kinds of sukuk worth more than 157 trillion rials have been released in the capital market, 17 of which worth $ 311.7 million have come to maturity," Gholamreza Abutorabi was also quoted as saying by the official website of the company: "The amount of installments and the original amount of these matured bonds have been reimbursed".
According to the CEO, 30 kinds of active sukuk worth $ 3.5 billion are currently in use and are being traded, whereas two other kinds worth a total of $ 89.9 million belonging to two companies will come to maturity. From the beginning of the current fiscal year on March 20 until now, more than $ 407.6 million worth of installments pertaining to various kinds of sukuk have been received by intermediary financial companies.

#Iranian Private Banks Secure #Qatar Foothold

Several major Iranian private lenders have recently established correspondent relations with Qatar National Bank (QNB). Kourosh Parvizian, CEO of Parsian Bank, said these banks opened accounts with QNB and are prepared to offer financial services to Iranian and Qatari businesses. QNB governor Sheikh Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani said Qatari lenders will make efforts to remove trade obstacles quickly. The Iranian delegation in Doha held a meeting with officials from QNB, Al Rayan Bank and Al Khaliji Bank. They discussed using local currencies in bilateral trade and taking speedy measures to ease trade between the two countries. Bank Melli Iran is also holding talks with one of the largest banks in Qatar for establishing correspondent ties.

Iran Gov’t to Issue #Sukuk Worth $6b Next Year

The Irani government will issue 260 trillion rials ($6 billion) worth of sukuk in the next fiscal year, starting March 21, 2018. Proceeds will be used to fund the government's incomplete projects. Managing Director of Central Securities Depository, Gholamreza Aboutorabi, said the projected debt issuance was 30% higher compared to what was forecast for the current year.

Iranian Banks’ Incomes, Expenses Projected for 2018-19

The total projected income of eight Iranian state-owned banks has been put at 845.2 trillion rials ($20.09 billion) for the fiscal 2018-19. These banks include Bank Melli Iran, Bank Sepah, Bank Keshavarzi (AgriBank), Bank of Industry and Mine, Export Development Bank of Iran, Post Bank of Iran, Tose'e Ta'avon Bank (Cooperatives Development Bank) and Bank Maskan. The expenses of these banks have been predicted to match their incomes at 820.2 trillion rials ($19.49 billion). President Rouhani submitted the budget on Sunday for the next fiscal year that begins on March 21, 2018. The bill also cements the authority held by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance to issue official guarantees. All projects belonging to the private sector, cooperatives and non-government public entities that meet the criteria will be able to employ foreign funds.

#Iran’s debt market emerges as key to economic future

The rising issuance of sukuk and Treasury bills in the past three years in Iran is seen as evidence of the success and allure of the Iranian debt market. Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the sales of bonds has been the lack of funds to private contractors and creditors. The Iranian government's budget for the public sector is allowed to issue a significant amount of debt securities. Although this helps state-run organizations sponsor infrastructure projects, it might bring about risk of default for future governments. An analysis of budget figures shows that the government is always forced to settle the past matured securities with the issuance of new ones. Government commitments are accumulated and rolled over to later years. The administration is due to pay its outstanding debt obligations, totaling $7 billion and can issue about $10 billion worth of sukuk.

Interview: Bank Melli #Iran Upbeat on Int’l #Expansion

According to Mohammad Reza Hosseinzadeh, CEO of Bank Melli Iran (BMI), the European Union has made its decision to work with Iran. The banker noted that BMI has managed to establish correspondent banking relations with 135 banks of 30 countries, half of them European. What is more, Bank Melli and its branches in Hamburg and Paris have connected to TARGET 2, the Eurozone's real-time transfer system. In terms of expansion, Hosseinzadeh said negotiations are well underway with one of the biggest banks of the Persian Gulf state for BMI to establish a branch there, but refused to name the bank. BMI is also on course to open a branch in Pakistan, most likely during the next fiscal year, starting March 21, 2018.

Iranian Banks, #Fintechs Shine in #Iran Transaction #Exhibition

Banks, fintechs, financial solution vendors and startups were present in full force at the Third Iran Transaction Exhibition (ITE). The exhibition was inaugurated by Mohammad Morad Bayat, chief executive of FABA, a government-owned center for promotion of electronic banking. He said that 56 startup companies have taken part in this year’s event and that fintechs are not banks' enemies, as the future will be one of cooperation between the two. The Iranian Parliament also had a representative in the exhibition, who said the government has assigned a whole chapter specifically to electronic banking. Various payment systems, banking solutions, real-estate financial services and insurance facilitators were showcased at the exhibition.

An #Iranian Bank Has Invested over 26 million Dollars on #Startups

Iranian banks have decided to get more engaged with the country’s startup scene. According to Alireza Daliri, Deputy Director of Iran’s Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, Bank Melli Iran has invested around over 26 million dollars in the country’s startup market. Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency had offered the banks to either establish their own accelerators or invest on large successful and on-going projects. Eventually, the banks decided to go with the latter. Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency has started negotiations with a number of Iranian banks such as Saderat, Sepah, Export Development Bank, Tourism Bank, Post Bank and Refah, but it is difficult to persuade them. Iran’s startup scene has witnessed exponential growth in the recent years. The number of knowledge-based firms in the country has increased from 52 in March 2014 to 2732 until October 2016, but lack of funding is still a major issue.

Central Bank of #Iran Assigns #Sukuk Trading to Capital Market

The Central Bank of Iran has stepped in and put a stop to the trading of the so-called Sakhab bonds. Sakhab is one of the many types of debt securities issued by the Irani government meant to clear its debts to contractors. It matures in a year and is priced at 1 million rials ($26.1) per bond. It could only be traded in certain branches of Bank Melli Iran. The new Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Masoud Karbasian, vowed to stand against the issuance of any bond issued by the government outside the capital market. The government issued 120 trillion rials ($3.13 billion) of Sakhab bonds late March and handed over the secondary trading to the banks. The opaque condition of secondary trading prompted the growth of a black market. Market experts have long raised concerns about a deepening gap between the equity and debt markets and further channeling capital toward low-risk, high-return bonds.

Without reforms, #Iranian banking crisis looms

In Iran, concerns are growing that banks may be facing the fate of credit and financial institutions (CFIs) that are on the verge of collapse. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is under rising pressure from the parliament to immediately regulate these nonbank credit institutions, as an increasing number of depositors protest delays. Now, there are fears that banks could be next. To avoid this scenario, pundits are suggesting that the CBI be granted more autonomy by the parliament so that it will take more serious disciplinary measures. The administration of President Hassan Rouhani has been trying to pass the bill in the parliament, but certain influential bodies have blocked the legislation. The huge government debt is putting excessive pressure on the banking system, but the Iranian public still trusts banks, even as many CFIs have collapsed.

5 Foreign Banks Licensed by #Iran

The Central Bank of Iran has released the names of 40 registered banks and credit institutions active in the country, which include the names of five foreign banks. The only five foreign lenders licensed to operate in Iran are the Hamburg-based Iranian-European Bank, Standard Chartered, Iran-Venezuela Bi-National Bank, Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank and Future Bank. The Iranian-European Bank has a German license, but is owned by the Iranian state. Standard Chartered is a British multinational banking company headquartered in London. It operates a network of more than 1,200 branches across more than 70 countries. Iran-Venezuela Bank a joint venture between Banco Industrial de Venezuela and the Export Development Bank of Iran. However, Iran is planning to sell some of its shares in IVBB, as the two countries currently have no commercial relations. The Islamic Cooperation Investment Bank is an Iraqi private lender, which currently has 11 branches in Iran. Future Bank is a fully commercial lender approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain, its branch in Iran is located in the Kish Free Trade Zone.

#Turkish Banking Team Plans #Iran Visit to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

A delegation from the Central Bank of Turkey will soon meet their Iranian counterparts in Tehran to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral banking relations. Particular difficulties include Iranian citizens' bank accounts in the Turkish Halkbank. The banking ties were overshadowed by the detention of a senior Halkbank official in the US in March for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla was accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to channel hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iranian companies. Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci is also scheduled to visit Iran on June 21 to negotiate a preferential trade agreement between the two sides.

Bank Melli Iran Revamping European Branches

Bank Melli Iran (BMI) is planning to overhaul its European branches after clearing the procedures both inside the country and abroad. BMI's director for Foreign Exchange, Gholamreza Panahi, said the bank held negotiations with European officials to enhance its presence in the continent. He added that the bank's Najaf branch in Iraq is also ready to launch and expand the bank's network in East Asia. Panahi said BMI established correspondent relations with 25 foreign banks, which means connecting to a banking network that makes it possible to benefit from their wide range of services. The official also said BMI was the first Iranian bank to be reconnected to Swift, the international interbank messaging network, after the sanctions were lifted in January last year.

#Iranian Banks' L/C Boom in Post-Sanctions Era

The Iranian Ministry of Economy has published the details of letters of credit (L/Cs) that Iranian banks allocated over the past few years. The country’s international trade picked up considerable pace when the sanctions against Iran were lifted. According to the ministry’s report, Bank Melli Iran allocated 154 letters of credit worth $42.71 million over a four-year period (2013-16). During 2013-16, Bank Keshavarzi opened 19,253 L/Cs worth over $10.5 billion. It also played an important role in issuing 21 bank guarantees valued at $15 million. Bank Mellat also issued 32 export guarantees worth $15.4 million and four import guarantees worth $13.5 million. Export Development Bank of Iran opened 550 L/Cs and issued more than 1,750 bank guarantees during 2013-15 to emerge as one of the main forces in the Iranian economy.

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