Bangladesh court delays Yunus case

Arguments postponed on whether Nobel laureate and founder of microcredit bank can keep his post as managing-director.

    Protests were held in Bangladesh against the central bank's ruling [Reuters]

    The highest court in Bangladesh has delayed arguments on whether Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus can retain his job at the microfinance bank he founded.

    Kamal Hossain, Yunus's lawyer said the supreme court delayed Tuesday's hearing for two weeks as the necessary court papers were not available.

    The high court had previously upheld the central bank's order that 71-year-old Yunus leave Grameen Bank for violating retirement laws.

    His supreme court appeal is his last legal option to remain as the bank's managing director, the job he has held for nearly 30 years. Yunus was fired as managing director on March 2, and he alleges the government is trying to take control of his bank.

    Grameen pioneered the practice of using tiny loans to help lift people from poverty, inspiring such lending throughout the developing world. The concept won Yunus and the bank the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Political troubles

    Backed by a high-profile international lobby group, he defied the sacking order by returning to work at Grameen Bank's headquarters and launching a legal battle to keep control of his organisation.

    Analysts say Yunus's troubles stem from 2007 when he suggested the idea of forming a political party, earning the wrath of prime minister Sheikh Hasina who has publicly disparaged his work.

    Grameen's huge influence in Bangladesh and its move into solar panels, mobile phones and other consumer goods also appear to have triggered the government's animosity.

    "They want to put their own person at the chair of the bank, a political person," Yunus, told a Washington microfinance conference via video link early last week.

    Friends of Grameen, a lobby group chaired by former Irish president Mary Robinson, described the High Court verdict as "politically oriented and without legal grounds".

    His sacking sparked street protests in Bangladesh and widespread condemnation from overseas, including from US senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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