DHAKA Oct 3 Bangladesh on Thursday approved a
draft of an act to bring the Nobel prize-winning microfinance
lender Grameen Bank under the authority of the central bank,
which its founder, Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus, has said is a
ploy to destroy it.
Yunus, 73, was removed as head of the bank in 2011 on the
grounds that he had stayed on past the legal retirement age of
60. He was not immediately available for comment.
Yunus, dubbed "banker to the poor", was awarded the 2006
Nobel Peace Prize for providing small loans which led to the
creation of similar programmes in more than 100 nations from the
United States to Uganda.
Lauded abroad by politicians and financiers at the time, he
has been under attack from the government of Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina since 2010 after a Norwegian documentary alleged
Grameen Bank was dodging taxes.
Yunus has denied any financial irregularities and his
supporters say he is being discredited by the government because
of a feud with Hasina dating back to 2007, when he tried to set
up a rival political party while Bangladesh was ruled by an
interim military government.
"The draft of the act has been approved at a cabinet meeting
chaired by Prime Minister Hasina and the act will be sent to the
parliament for enactment of the law in the current session,"
Cabinet Secretary Muhammad Muhsarraf Hossain Bhuiyan told
In September, the government launched tax probes against
Yunus and his seven social business firms, accusing them of
dodging millions of dollars in taxes.
Hasina herself has called Yunus a "bloodsucker of the poor"
and sharply criticised Grameen Bank's microlending practices,
especially after the Norwegian documentary alleged the bank had
for tax purposes shifted funds provided by Norway's aid agency
in the 1990s from one legal entity to another.
The bank has provided about $10 billion in small loans, most
of them women, to fund businesses and help people escape
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Nick Macfie)