Hinduja Bank backs Iran food financing

GENEVA Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:26pm IST

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Hinduja Group's Swiss-based private banking arm is able to continue providing financing to trading houses shipping food to Iran, its chief executive told Reuters, despite difficulties in processing payments.

"We are happy to provide help for the Iranian people in supporting trade finance on a humanitarian basis for food and pharmaceuticals," Chief Executive Charles de Boissezon told Reuters by telephone.

Hinduja Bank is part of an Indian family-owned conglomerate that invests in sectors including energy and automobiles.

"Every transaction we do we have to have pre-approval from the regulators and it's examined under a microscope. There's still business to be done totally legally and even the Americans appreciate you have to continue this trade," said De Boissezon.

Food shipments are not targeted under western sanctions aimed at Iran's disputed nuclear programme, but financial measures have frozen Iranian firms out of much of the global banking system.

Some suppliers have resorted to using Turkish banks as an alternative trade financing route to work around Western sanctions.

De Boissezon did not specify which type of food deals the bank was financing but Hinduja Bank is known for lending to large Geneva-based agricultural trading houses.

U.S. agribusiness group Cargill's vice chairman told Reuters in February that it was possible to supply Iran with grain via non-dollar currencies and that it planned to continue shipments.

Trading houses such as Bunge (BG.N) and Louis Dreyfus also have large trading offices in Geneva.

Iran imports around 4.5 million tonnes of grain a year, including about 3.5 million tonnes of corn, which is mainly used in animal feed.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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