Nobel Laureate Loses Last Legal Battle to Save Job at Bank

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NEW DELHI – Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate and microfinance pioneer who popularized the notion of giving tiny loans to the poor, lost his legal battle on Tuesday to hold on to his job as managing director of the bank he created more than 30 years ago.

Bangladesh’s central bank ordered last month that Mr. Yunus be dismissed from his post at Grameen Bank, the institution he founded and with which shared the peace prize in 2006. On Tuesday, Bangladesh’s highest court dismissed his appeal against the order. “They passed a one word order: dismissed,” said Sara Hossein, one of Mr. Yunus’s lawyers. The court did not rule on a separate petition, made by the majority of the bank’s board, to retain Mr. Yunus as director. She said Mr. Yunus’s lawyers would ask the court to review its decision, which was made with uncommon speed.

“We are asking for recall of this order,” she said.

The ruling is the most recent development in a lengthy and increasingly acrimonious battle over the control of Grameen Bank, which has 8.3 million borrowers, between the government and Mr. Yunus, an economist celebrated around the world for bringing banking services to the poor but who has fallen out of favor with the leaders of his country.

The push to remove Mr. Yunus started last year after a Norwegian documentary accused him and Grameen Bank of improperly transferring to an affiliate $100 million that had been donated by Norway. The money was retransferred after Norwegian officials complained. In a statement last year, Norway cleared Grameen and Mr. Yunus of wrongdoing.

Source: The New York Times (link opens in a new window)