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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 17:03 GMT
Bangladeshi bank allowed back in Britain
Tower Bridge at night
British Bangladeshis have home banking again
By the BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka

Bangladesh's largest commercial bank, the Sonali Bank, has been given permission to resume banking operations in Britain.

The British regulators of banks and financial institutions have approved the licence of the Sonali Bank (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of the state-run Bangladeshi bank.

The operations of the bank were closed down more than two years ago following charges of gross irregularities.

In a statement, the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) said it has given Sonali Bank permission to open a new bank which will take over the assets and liabilities of Sonali Bank's six UK-based branches.

Before they were shut down, these branches were run under Bangladeshi banking laws and were controlled from Dhaka.

New ownership

However, the new Sonali Bank (UK) will be incorporated in Britain under British banking laws and will have a separate board of directors.

Officials say a full-fledged bank in London will help expatriate Bangladeshis send their money back home and cater to other banking needs

The Bangladeshi government will have 51% of the shares in the new bank while Sonali Bank will control the remaining shares.

Sonali Bank officials say they will initially open only one branch at Osborn Street in London.

Future expansion will depend on commercial prospects.

Expatriates benefit

Sonali Bank's other subsidiary - the Sonali Trade and Finance (UK) Ltd - is being run as an exchange house to remit foreign currency earned by expatriate Bangladeshis in the UK.

It will continue to run separately.

Officials say a full-fledged bank in London will help expatriate Bangladeshis remit their money back home and cater to other banking needs.

Britain, home to more than 300,000 non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs), is one of the largest sources of remittance for Bangladesh.

It provides nearly $25m a month to the national exchequer.

No date has been fixed for launching the new bank in Britain, but officials say they will start the formalities as soon as possible.

See also:

30 May 01 | South Asia
Award for Bangladesh bank programme
30 Aug 99 | South Asia
Bank takeover under spotlight
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