|Terming his sacking as illegal, Yunus has alleged the government was trying to take control of his bank [GALLO/GETTY]
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel laureate and microcredit pioneer, has lost his final court appeal to stay as managing director of Grameen Bank, which he founded nearly three decades ago.
"The appeal is dismissed," ABM Khairul Haque, the Chief Justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court said on Tuesday in his one-sentence ruling.
"The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has rejected Muhammad Yunus' appeal challenging a High Court order that upheld his removal as head of operations of the Grameen Bank," one of the attorneys, Tamim Hussain Shawon, told Reuters.
Yunus was not in court. Comments from him or Grameen Bank were not immediately available. Kamal Hossain, Yunus' lawyer declined to comment.
The Nobel laureate has told staff at his bank that "it is my time to leave" after he lost a Supreme Court appeal against his sacking, a colleague said.
He spoke to hundreds of staff at Grameen Bank, who had stopped work after the court order, Grameen Bank official Amimul Islam told AFP news agency.
"Yunus said 'I went to court to seek justice, but now I have received the verdict and it is my time to leave Grameen Bank,'" Islam told AFP at the Grameen Bank headquarters in Dhaka's Mirpur district.
The Grameen bank founder pulled out of a planned press conference, according to his spokesman.
The microcredit pioneer, 70, had been removed as head of the bank on the grounds that he had stayed on past the legal retirement age of 60.
The High Court upheld his removal and he appealed then to the Supreme Court, his last legal option.
An outspoken government critic, Yunus has said the dismissal was illegal and alleged that the government was trying to take control of his bank, which pioneered the practice of giving tiny loans to millions of people.
His work spurred a boom in such lending across the developing world, earning him and the bank the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel laurate has long had frosty relations with Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister.
She was reportedly angered by Yunus' 2007 attempt to form his own political party, backed by the country's powerful army.
In December, following the release of a Norwegian TV documentary critical of Yunus, the Bangladeshi prime minister accused him of "sucking blood from the poor" and pulling a financial "trick" to avoid paying tax.
Yunus has denied any financial irregularities and the Norwegian government found no evidence of misuse of funds or corruption.
At the center of the court case was whether Yunus was exempt from a banking law setting the retirement age at 60.
The microlending bank currently has nearly nine million borrowers in Bangladesh, 97 per cent of whom are women.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies