Muhammad Yunus remains managing director of Grameen Bank after the microfinance lender’s chairman said Bangladesh’s central bank had removed the Nobel Prize winner from the post, Grameen’s spokeswoman said.
Yunus is still with the bank he founded, Jannat-E Quanine said in an e-mailed statement today. Grameen’s Chairman Muzammel Huq told reporters in Dhaka that the central bank had removed Yunus from the position, according to the statement, which didn’t give a reason.
Yunus was named managing director in 2000 without prior approval from Bangladesh Bank, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Huq, who was appointed by the government.
The latest development highlights differences between the Grameen Bank founder and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s government, which surfaced in December when Norwegian television reported misuse of aid to the lender. Early last month, Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith asked Yunus to step down, Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper reported yesterday, without elaborating.
“We have written to Grameen Bank that Muhammad Yunus can no longer continue to be the managing director,” K.M. Abdul Wadood, general manager at the banking regulation and policy department of Bangladesh Bank, said by telephone today. “Grameen Bank is bound to follow our instructions.”
Yunus breached retirement norms in Bangladesh by continuing to head Grameen Bank, Wadood said yesterday. No one is allowed to serve if they are above the age of 60, Wadood said.
“This is a legal issue,” Jannat-E Quanine said in the statement. “Grameen Bank has been duly complying with all applicable laws. It has also complied with the law in respect of appointment of the managing director.”
This isn’t the first instance of problems between the government and Yunus, 70. In December, a documentary shown on Norwegian national television reported that aid money to Grameen Bank was diverted for purposes other than lending. Sheikh Hasina called for the allegations to be investigated.
Yunus said he would welcome any probe, The Telegraph newspaper of India reported Dec. 6. Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, said in a statement the same month that there was “no indication” the Norwegian funds were misused.
The Bangladesh government owned 5 percent of Grameen Bank in January, according to the bank’s website. The bank to the poor now covers 95 percent of the country’s villages, with 8.35 million borrowers, most of whom are women, as of January, according to its website.
Yunus and Grameen Bank shared the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He founded the lender in 1983 to extend unsecured loans to the poor.
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