Bangladesh court grants bail to Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus

Micro-credit pioneer appears in court over firing of three employees by Grameen Communications, where he is chairman.

Grameen Bank founder, Muhammad Yunus
Grameen Communications is a not-for-profit information technology firm [File: Jason DeCrow/AP]

Micro-credit pioneer and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been granted bail in Bangladesh over the firing of three employees by Grameen Communications, where he is chairman.

Zakia Parveen, acting chairman of the 3rd Labour Court in the capital, Dhaka, announced the decision on Sunday when Yunus appeared before the court.

Last month, the country’s High Court had set a November 7 deadline for him to appear in person.

The Labour Court had earlier issued an arrest warrant for Yunus and two other executives after he failed to appear because he was abroad.

The three employees filed the cases in July, saying they were terminated illegally after seeking to form a trade union.

Grameen Communications, a not-for-profit information technology firm, is one of several companies under the Grameen umbrella founded by Yunus.

Yunus shared the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank, which provides small loans to impoverished people.

He lost a legal battle after the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina removed him from the bank over retirement age regulations in 2011.

A year earlier, in November 2010, Hasina claimed Yunus was “sucking blood from the poor in the name of poverty alleviation”.

In the following years, the authorities filed a criminal case against him for food adulteration, and initiated investigations into the bank and its sister companies.

In 2015, the National Bureau of Revenue filed a court case against Yunus for allegedly failing to pay $1.5m in tax – an allegation he called “baseless”. The case was subsequently stayed by the High Court.

The move was seen by some observers as a possible new step in the ruling Awami League party’s ongoing feud with Yunus, which was initially triggered by his attempt in 2007 to establish a rival political party.

The prime minister has also accused him of lobbying the World Bank to stop its $3bn financing of a bridge over the Padma river at Mawa, 50km (30 miles) south of Dhaka, and this year said “the conspirators” seeking to block the grant “will be prosecuted”.

Source: News Agencies