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Apr 28, 2016

National Bank of Cambodia increases minimum registered capital requirements for financial institutions

By Patrick Smith

The National Bank of Cambodia (the “NBC”) issued prakas (regulation) B7-016-117 (the “Prakas”) on 22 March 2016, setting out new minimum registered capital requirements for licensed banks, specialized banks, and microfinance institutions (“Financial Institutions”). The new minimum registered capital requirements, which are set out below, must be met within two years of the date the Prakas was issued (the “Transitional Period”).

The Prakas does not provide penalties for failing to meet the minimum capital requirements it requires. However, under article 27 of the Law on Banking and Financial Institutions (1999) (the “LBFI”) the NBC shall require “influential shareholders” (those holding 20% of the relevant licensed entity’s shares) to inject capital into a licensed entity “if the financial position … so warrants.” Failure to meet the new capital requirement set out in the Prakas would appear to be a circumstance in which the “financial position…so warrants”. The NBC has not indicated whether it will review the financial position of Financial Institutions during the Transitional Period for compliance with the Prakas.

Influential shareholders that fail to comply with an order from the NBC pursuant to article 27 of the LBFI may be fined and/or, with respect to individuals only, imprisoned. With respect to the relevant entity, non-compliance could result in temporary or permanent withdrawal of its license, compulsory resignation of or more directors, and/or provisional administration.

The Prakas provides for the following changes to minimum capital requirements for financial institutions (all amounts in USD):

  1. The minimum capital requirement for locally incorporated licensed commercial banks, whether subsidiaries of foreign banks or otherwise, is $75 million.
  2. The minimum capital requirement for branches of investment grade foreign banks is $50 million.
  3. The minimum capital requirement for branches of non-investment grade foreign banks is $75 million.
  4. The minimum capital requirement for specialized banks is $15 million.
  5. The minimum capital requirement for MFIs with a deposit taking license is $30 million.
  6. The minimum capital requirement for MFIs without a deposit taking license is $1.5 million.

The Prakas requires that all licensed commercial banks and specialized banks meet the new minimum capital requirements and repeals provisions of prakas B7-07-163 on New Capital Requirement and Criteria for Licensing Approval of Banks (2008) which provided that the minimum capital requirements for a bank or specialized bank depended upon whether the bank or specialized bank had an influential shareholder that was a foreign bank or financial institution with an investment grade rating.

The Prakas does not expressly contemplate how it impacts entities which are in the process of obtaining, or planning to obtain prior to the end of the Transitional Period, a license to become a Financial Institution. The Prakas does not state whether such entities are required to meet the minimum capital requirements set forth in the Prakas in order to obtain the relevant license.

Sciaroni & Associates, one of Southeast Asia’s leading professional services and investment advisory firms, has been providing skilled counsel and knowledgeable business insights for over two decades. Based in  Cambodia with legal offices in  Laos and Myanmar, our experienced team of advisors brings considerable general and sector-specific expertise to the challenges confronting companies doing business in emerging markets.  We are proud that our clients comprise many of the world’s premier companies, banks, financial institutions, governments and global development organizations.

For more information please visit www.sa-asia.com or contact us at info@sa-asia.com.

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Sciaroni & Associates is a leading professional and investment advisory firm doing business in Southeast Asia since 1993. Based in Cambodia with legal offices in Laos and Myanmar, we provide experienced advice and business insights to many of the world’s leading companies, governments, economic think tanks, global development funds, international NGOs and the Royal Government of Cambodia in accordance with strict international standards.
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