December 14, 2015 / 8:52 AM / 4 years ago

Suriname's Trust Bank plans conversion to Islamic banking

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Suriname’s Trust Bank will convert its operations to become a full-fledged Islamic bank, after it signed an agreement with the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank to advise on the transition.

Trust Bank would become the first full-fledged Islamic bank in South America, the latest lender to engage with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to develop Islamic finance capabilities.

The lender, which decided on the transition in June, is implementing a strategy focused on small- and medium-sized businesses and adopting Islamic finance principles would support this aim, Chief Executive Maureen Badjoeri said in a statement.

Islamic finance follows religious principles which forbid involvement in activities such as gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and the charging of interest.

Suriname, perched on South America’s northeastern shoulder, is the only country from the Western hemisphere to be a member of the IDB group, joining in 1997. It has received financing from the IDB worth a combined $149 million for 18 projects.

The ICD has worked on several conversions of conventional lenders including projects in Kazakhstan and Tunisia. (Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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