Microcredit pioneer to lodge appeal

Noble Prize winner Muhammad Yunus to appeal, after High Court upheld his removal from Bangladesh's Grameen Bank.

    Yunus was removed as head of Grameen Bank for staying on past legal retirement age [AP]

    Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi Nobel laureate, will lodge a Supreme Court appeal against a High Court decision upholding his removal from microlender Grameen Bank.

    The Nobel laureate will also ask the court to immediately suspend the central bank's order removing him from Grameen Bank, which he founded in 1983 and which provides collateral-free loans to eight million rural borrowers.

    The High Court on Tuesday upheld last week's order removing Yunus as head of the bank.

    Yunus, 70, had been removed as head of the bank on the grounds that he had stayed on past the legal retirement age of 60.

    Grameen Bank said in a statement that Tuesday's court decision was disappointing, adding that it would consult with its lawyers to consider what to do next.

    "We hope that in the meantime nothing will jeopardise the stability of Grameen Bank," the statement said.

    'Government vendetta'

    There was no immediate explanation why the removal came now and not 10 years ago, but some say the decision was prompted by a government vendetta.

    In 2007, while Bangladesh was ruled by an interim military government, Yunus tried to set up a political party, but later stepped back.

    Though Yunus was unlikely to pose a threat to Sheikh Hasina, the country's prime minister, his proposed party could well have challenged the prime minister because of his popularity among poor voters.

    Action against Yunus coincides with increasing criticism of microlending in developing countries, including neighbouring India, with officials accusing bankers of exploiting the poor.

    But analysts said the dismissal would annoy the country's friends, including the United States. Thousands of protesters marched through Dhaka last weekend to denounce Yunus's removal.

    Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, set up Grameen, which means village in Bengali, and has been its managing director since 2000.

    Lauded abroad by politicians and financiers, he has been under attack by the government since late last year, after a Norwegian documentary alleged the bank was dodging taxes.

    Yunus has denied any financial irregularities and the Norwegian government found no evidence of misuse of funds or corruption.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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