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Bangladesh apex court confirms Yunus removal from Grameen Bank

Tuesday April 05, 2011 05:26:21 PM, IANS

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Dhaka: The Bangladesh Supreme Court Tuesday confirmed the removal of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus as the managing director of the Grameen Bank that he had founded in 1976.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court dismissed Yunus' petition filed against a High Court verdict upholding an order of the Bangladesh Bank, the country's central bank, replacing him.

A seven-member bench headed by Chief Justice A.B.M. Khairul Haque delivered the order after a hearing that began Tuesday morning, reported Star Online, web site of The Daily Star and bdnews24.com, a web newspaper.

The court also fixed Wednesday for hearing another petition filed by nine board members of the microfinance bank challenging the high court verdict.

Yunus and Grameen Bank jointly won the Nobel peace prize in 2006 for the pioneering effort in delivering small credits to rural women in Bangladesh.

The Grameen model has been replicated in many countries across the world.

Yunus's removal March 2 has caused protests at home and abroad. Governments, including those of the US and France, have officially expressed concern and called for a compromise between him and the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"Friends of Grameen", a body of internationally known personalities that is headed by Ireland's Mary Robinson, has also protested his removal.

The government says that Yunus, 70, has stayed at the helm of the bank beyond the limits permitted under the laws of the land that govern banking. Grameen Bank says it is only partly government owned.

Upholding the high court verdict, the apex court said: "Yunus has no right to hold the office of MD of Grameen Bank from now on."

"Yunus can not legally sign any order of Grameen Bank following the SC (Supreme court) order," Star Online quoted Attorney General Mahbubey Alam as saying.

Yunus' principal counsel Kamal Hossain told The Daily Star that another leave-to-appeal petition filed by nine directors would be heard Wednesday and he will comment after that.

The High Court March 8 said the microcredit pioneer's posting as the head of Grameen Bank since 1999 was illegal as he had reached the age of 60 by then.

Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith is on record saying that he had urged Yunus "formally and informally" to quit. Yunus, he said, told him that if he quit, "the bank will collapse".

Yunus has reportedly said he was willing to quit but would like to work for a "smooth" succession.

He told the Wall Street Journal last week: "I am not a political threat to anyone."

According to bdnews24.com, shortly after he was asked to leave the bank, Yunus tried to bargain for the post of the chairman of the board of directors so that he could continue to oversee the bank after retiring.

But the government refused.

Yunus issued an appeal March 7 for a smooth transition of leadership at Grameen, the first public indication that he was willing to relinquish control of the institution.

His supporters released a letter Yunus wrote last year to Muhith, proposing that he step down as managing director, and suggesting the government - which selects a quarter of the Grameen board's voting members, and the chairman - appoint him as chairman.

"This will ensure the continuity in the bank remains. The staff and borrowers of Grameen Bank will not get scared by the suddenness of my departure," Yunus wrote.

The bank now has 20,000 employees and 8.3 million customers. It has distributed taka 600 billion (Rs.366 billion/$8 billion) in loans as of January 2011.



 

 

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