News / Asia

Bangladesh Pressures Nobel Laureate Yunus to Retire

Muhammad Yunus (file photo)
Muhammad Yunus (file photo)

Bangladesh's government has intensified pressure on Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to retire from the microfinance lender he founded, Grameen Bank.

Yunus has been under attack in Bangladesh for alleged financial irregularities at Grameen. His supporters say is he being targeted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government for having tried to set up a rival political party in 2007.

Officials with the country's central bank said Tuesday they have sent a letter to Bangladesh's Finance Ministry demanding that Yunus retire immediately because he is illegally serving as Grameen's managing director.

The letter accuses the 70-year-old Yunus of contravening government rules that require retirement at age 60. The rules apply to Grameen because the government holds a 25 percent stake in the microfinance bank.

The central bank's letter follows a demand by Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith that Yunus step down.

Prime Minister Hasina has called Yunus a "blood-sucker of the poor" and criticized Grameen's microlending practices. The government is investigating the bank.

Yunus is also the target of a lawsuit accusing him of defaming several Bangladeshi politicians in an interview in 2007. During that interview with the French news agency, AFP, Yunus was quoted as saying that politicians are only after money.

The lawsuit was filed by a low-ranking official of a party allied with the government.

Grameen Bank provides credit without any collateral to people it describes as "the poorest of the poor" in rural Bangladesh. The bank and Yunus, its founder, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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