Bangladesh forces Yunus out

Bangladesh’s
government ordered Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from his post as head of his
microfinance bank — a humiliating blow for an activist whose revolutionary idea
of giving out small loans lifted many out of poverty.

But
the Grameen Bank said he remained in charge and that it would fight the
decision.

The demand for Mr. Yunus’ removal
as Grameen’s managing director capped a string of problems that faced the outspoken
government critic, including an apparently politically motivated defamation
trial and accusations of an unauthorized bank transfer 15 years ago.

Bangladesh’s central bank
ordered him out, arguing that he violated the country’s retirement laws, A.F.M.

The government owns a 25 per-cent
stake in Grameen, while the remainder of the bank is owned by its borrowers.

In a statement, however, Grameen
said Mr. Yunus was still holding his post.

Mr. Yunus is “continuing his work
as the managing director of the bank,” said the brief statement signed by
Jannat-E-Quanine, general manager of the bank.

 “Since it’s a legal issue, we will fight it
legally.”

Mr. Yunus founded the bank three
decades ago, pioneering the concept of reducing poverty by making tiny loans to
the poor.

 His work, which spurred a boom in such lending
across the developing world, earned him and the bank the 2006 Nobel Peace
Prize.

Recently, Mr. Yunus has been under
pressure at home.

In addition to his legal troubles,
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accused Grameen Bank and other microfinance
institutions of charging high interest rates and “sucking blood from the poor
borrowers.”

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