Nayeemul Islam Khan

Yunusgate: If you can’t convince, create confusion

March 7, 2011

yunusDubbed the messiah of microcredit, Dr. Yunus has been (perhaps wrongly) credited with a unique innovation in banking; i.e. banking for the poor. He has received numerous awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Hailed as the saviour of the poor and the pioneer of rural women empowerment, the praise and adulation that Yunus has received over last two and half decades by both Western and local elite dwarfs the admiration received by all other Nobel laureates combined. He has definitely made us, the Bangladeshis, extremely proud. We as a nation are forever indebted to Yunus (no pun intended) for his achievement and for giving us one of the most cherished causes of celebration in the history of Bangladesh.

Recently, a lot of controversy and confusion have been created surrounding the removal of Dr. Yunus by Bangladesh Bank from the post of managing director of Grameen Bank. In this regard Grameen Bank, Dr. Yunus, and his supporters/friends have adopted a tactic of creating confusion (which is evidently the dominant PR strategy of Dr. Yunus that this article is expected to reveal) among the citizens of the country by orchestrating an aggressive PR campaign both home and abroad. We feel it’s about time we looked through these clouds of confusion and clear things up so that we can call a spade a spade.

One thing must be cleared at the beginning; we have no issues whatsoever with Yunus being the MD of Grameen Bank, provided it is done in a way consistent with the laws. What we are aiming to achieve is to make sure an institution of Grameen’s stature is run in a transparent and accountable manner. If Dr. Yunus, Grameen Bank’s present board and Yunus’ lawyers can prove that everything is done in a transparent, accountable and legal way and the court verdicts in their favour then we would be delighted to welcome Yunus back to his rightful position. However, until proven legitimate, we have every right as citizens of Bangladesh to raise questions regarding the alleged irregularities of one of this nation’s most prized public institutions.

It should be noted that it was Dr. Yunus’ choice to establish Grameen Bank as an institution under a government ordinance as a public institution and not to go through all the struggles and pain of a private or non-governmental institution. Institutions like BRAC were formed as a private/non government entity. Unlike Dr. Yunus, Fazle Hasan Abed took all the responsibilities and went through all the troubles of building and growing an institution of BRAC’s magnitude and significance all via private initiatives. As Dr. Yunus chose not go along that way, it’s not fair for him, now to expect the freedom and flexibility of a private institution while being a government institution. In no way, we deny any of the claims made by Grameen Bank board regarding Dr. Yunus’ contribution to the Grameen Bank and his role in building a positive image of our country. We salute him for his unique and priceless contribution.

Having said that, I was surprised to read a piece by Mahfuz Anam, one of the most  astute defenders of democracy, free speech,  human rights and rule of law, on the latest “controversy” surrounding the removal of Yunus from the position of managing director of Grameen Bank.

In his commentary, “Is this the way to treat our Nobel laureate?”, Mahfuz Anam, echoing a similar line of argument put forward by the US ambassador and some other Western diplomats, tries to justify Dr. Yunus’ appointment as the managing director of Grameen Bank by its board for indefinite period without the approval of Bangladesh Bank, the regulatory authority of the Bank under the law that was enacted to create and operate Grameen Bank.

The crux of the argument is three folds.

First, Anam, tries to justify the allegedly illegal action of Yunus to continue as the MD of Grameen Bank by appealing to our common sense. That, its not yesterday that Dr. Yunus turned over 60, as he is now more than 70 years of age, then why this “sudden rush” of removing him from the position after more than 10 years when it was “legally” due? And he implies, in not so subtle way, that as the present government in general and the prime minister in particular do not want him to remain in the position, this “technicality” is being exploited to remove Yunus from his ‘rightful’ position of Grameen’s MD.

Second, Mr. Anam wants us to believe, that in doing so, the government is tarnishing the image of the country as removing someone of Yunus’ stature from Grameen Bank, even if in a “technically” legal manner, is not being well received by the Western world.

Finally, as Dr. Yunus has done so much, received so many international awards, loves the poor, especially poor vulnerable rural women so much, contributed to setting up of so many “social businesses”, has empowered so many rural women, been the messiah of microcredit by popularising it worldwide as a viable business/banking model, and even received Nobel Prize, he should not be treated the same way as we would treat any other Tom, Dick or Shah Alam. In simple words, we should give Dr. Yunus the privilege of someone who is above the law. Period. Before we try to counter the arguments put forward by Mahfuz Anam, let’s deal first with another pressing issue.

The founder’s privilege and a letter of “alternatives”

Another minor argument being put forward in defence of Dr. Yunus is, as founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus should be allowed the privilege to relinquish his position in a congenial manner of his liking.

As the finance minister aptly put it, ‘it was difficult for me to create a ‘congenial environment of his liking’. Factually, it’s not true that Dr. Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, The government of Bangladesh is. Even if, for argument’s sake we accept that Yunus indeed is the founder, questions remain that whether being a founder of any organisation gives one the right to enjoy privileges beyond the law of the land.

Now, if, say, the founder of Mercantile Bank Mr. Abdul Jalil wants the same privilege or the board of directors of the bank decides to appoint him as the chairman for as long as he wishes to remain in the post, violating the banking laws, would we allow it?

The Mercantile Bank board may argue, that it was Mr. Jalil who founded the institution, conceptualised it, organised entrepreneurs, raised capital and have been the source of inspiration and beckon light of the leadership of the bank and made the bank such a huge success. They might feel if Mr. Jalil is not made the permanent/lifelong chairman of the bank, the bank may plunge into a crisis and shareholders may feel lost. Would we allow the Mercantile board to take such a decision even if that is prohibited by the law of the land?

So what is this ‘congenial environment of Dr. Yunus’s liking’?

According to a handwritten unofficial letter to the finance minister by Yunus, dated March, 15, 2010, Yunus offered two alternatives.

Option 1

The tenure of the chairman of Grameen Bank which was due to expire on 26 April, 2010, can be extended till 31st December of 2010 and once he would retire, Dr. Yunus can be appointed as the chairman so that the continuity is maintained and the people who work for Grameen Bank do not get depressed by the sudden change in leadership. In that scenario, the current DMD will take over as the MD.

One of the problems with this option is, it assumes that in almost three decades, Grameen Bank has failed to build a reliable successor to Dr. Yunus to head the organisation. And if, as Yunus claims, the current DMD is a competent executive who has been with Grameen from the beginning, then why would we have to wait for nine months to promote her to become the MD?

Option-2

In case Tabarak Hossain, the then chairman who was about to retire, refuses to take the responsibility through an extension offered by the governemnt, any one of the three chosen by Yunus can be made chairman for one year. Yunus even named them in a list according to his preference. His first choice was Mr. Sayeduzzaman, second Dr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury and third Khaled Shams. When in April 2011 their tenure would end, Yunus suggested that he himself be then made the chairman.

It’s interesting to note that in both cases, Yunus puts forward his own name as the future and ultimate chairman of Grameen to be effective at a time of his convenience. It’s important to note that, the Grameen Bank board did not write that letter or had any meeting where these options were passed as a resolution. This letter is another example of how Yunus has been using/treating the Bank as if it was his private property, owned by him 100 percent. Say for example, the finance minister agreed with one of the options, would it not have to be approved by the Grameen Bank board? And if that’s the case, how can Yunus be so sure that the board will agree with whatever alternatives he suggested without taking the board’s approval/endorsement first? Does it not clearly indicate that the Grameen Bank board is a puppet/parrot body, totally under autocratic control of Yunus?

How can an employee (MD of the bank) write a personal letter to a finance minister on a matter of such importance to the Bank and show the audacity of putting forward his personal preferences of how the Bank should be governed? Is this the way a transparent and accountable public institution should be run?

And if it is the Grameen Bank board who can decide who would be the MD of the bank without prior approval of Bangladesh Bank, (though according to Section 14(1) Grameen Bank ordinance 1983, “there should be a Managing Director of the Bank who shall be appointed by the Board with the prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank.”) then why did Yunus write that letter to the finance minister and request him to choose from one of his two alternatives?

Is this because Yunus knew that contrary to the public claims made by both Yunus and the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Bank board does not have the authority to appoint Yunus as the MD without prior approval of Bangladesh Bank?

The counter arguments

Getting back to Mr. Anam’s arguments, firstly, getting away with some illegal activity for more than 10 years does not justify the illegal action or somehow make it less illegal or punishable offence. It certainly does not exempt someone from the crime/s committed.

Second, by taking actions against the illegal activities/irregularities/unauthorised actions by Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank board, the government in fact is enhancing the image of the country by giving out the strong message that there is zero tolerance from present government on corruption and irregularities.

In fact it is Dr. Yunus and his so-called supporters in the form of “Friends of Grameen” or self proclaimed civil society (read elite) leadership of the country through a carefully concerted campaign, who are trying to tarnish the image of Bangladesh by presenting twisted truths and omitting important information to both local and global audience.

Take the example of the Norwegian fund controversy. Grameen Bank received a donation from Norwegian government and then transferred the fund to Grameen Kallyan. After that Grameen Bank borrowed from the same fund that was transferred to Grameen Kallyan from Grameen Bank in the first place. This is indeed a unique “banking innovation” where an institution which owns a certain fund can be turned into a borrower of that same fund by some “innovative”, “accounting” procedures to earn profit (interest) for a third party organisation which has no right or legal claim over that fund.

Grameen Bank claims that the matter has been resolved with the Norwegian authorities concerned. However, it should be noted that this “transfer of funds” issue has not been resolved in terms of the law of Bangladesh. One of the matters that the review committee on Grameen Bank is, examining this transfer of funds. By Grameen Bank’s own admission they transferred funds given to Grameen Bank to Grameen Kalyan. If this is a violation of the existing laws which common sense tells us must be, then stern action should be taken against those responsible. That the matter has been resolved with the donors cannot be an excuse to exempt anyone who would violate the law of the land.

And finally, nobody is above the law

Mahfuz Anam and James Moriarty surely know and embrace this principle. They are the champions of democracy and rule of law. They must know that even the US president can be impeached and brought to face trial for his actions.

Yes, Yunus made us all proud by winning Nobel prize, but no one else made us more proud than the freedom fighters of 1971. Even in case of the freedom fighters, have we made them exception to the law of the land?  Don’t we bring them to justice in case they do anything illegal? Then why should winning a Nobel prize or working in a non-AC room sitting on a wooden chair make Yunus an exception?

If we look back at the recent history of USA, we would see that everyone – from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Michael Jackson, from Muhammad Ali to presidential candidate John Kerry, or even California governor Arnold  Schwarzenegger – was brought to face trial for various “illegal” acts/and or “technical or “procedural”  irregularities.

A couple of days ago, Senator Kerry expressed his support for Dr. Yunus and called for an amicable solution for the present crisis. However, the Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate found a tax lien filed against his 2004 campaign for unpaid unemployment taxes to the tune of $819,848.

The Kerry camp maintained that the problem may have lied in the improper filing or missing files of employment tax returns. Kerry campaign spokeswoman Whitney Smith told reporters that the failure was on the part of the government, not the Senator.

“The IRS merely has a gap in their electronic records of the 2004 campaign’s payroll forms. We filed these forms correctly, and we’re working with the IRS to provide them any and all needed information to set the record straight.”

That did not convince IRS to withdraw their case and the matter continued in the court.

The IRS position is: “We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid.” In addition, the IRS disputes the claim that the Kerry campaign filed the proper forms at all.”

Similarly, when irregularities regarding Grameen Bank surfaced, Government of Bangladesh formed a “review committee” (not an “investigation committee”, so that the honour of Dr. Yunus can be maintained). Later, Bangladesh Bank took action according to the law. This is entirely a matter well within the sovereign right of the state of Bangladesh to implement its law as it may be applicable to its citizens and institutions, just as it was the right of IRS to implement US laws against alleged violation of tax laws by Senator Kerry.

In early December, we learned that a tax lien for nearly $80,000 was filed against California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. That was news to the actor-turned governor and his office, whose representatives say that was the first they’d heard of it. The IRS lien – which was filed with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s office – says Schwarzenegger owes $29,047 for tax year 2004 and another $40,016 for 2005.

The governor’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, was very clear with reporters, explaining that it was not a matter of Schwarzenegger failing to pay his taxes … it was a “paperwork tracking discrepancy.” McLear added this issue was “completely unrelated to the payment of taxes, which the governor has paid in full and on time.”

A code listed on the tax lien signifies the problems arose from information returns, possibly related to payroll taxes, and appears to indicate a reporting error. A California tax attorney contacted by the San Jose Mercury News said that Schwarzenegger may be listed as one of a group of owners of a business that faced some tax issues in the past. In that case, said the attorney, each partner would be listed as a responsible person, which would explain why Schwarzenegger would be unaware of the lien.

And surely, Hillary Clinton, above all people has not forgotten about Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Bill Clinton, the then president of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of power, failed in the House.

The charges arose from an investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. In the course of the investigation, Linda Tripp provided Starr with taped phone conversations in which Monica Lewinsky, a former White House Intern, discussed having oral sex with Clinton. At the fellatio deposition, the judge ordered a precise legal definition of the term “sexual relations” [2] that Clinton claims to have construed to mean only vaginal intercourse. Starr obtained further evidence of Clinton’s philandering by seizing the computer hard drive and email records of Monica Lewinsky. Based on his conflicting testimony, Starr concluded that Clinton had committed perjury. Starr submitted his findings to Congress in a lengthy document (the so-called Starr Report), which dealt with the relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky, replete with lurid details of their encounters. The report and subsequent proceedings provided ample fodder for both political opponents and late-night comedians.

Critics of Starr also contend that his investigation was highly politicised because it regularly leaked titbits of information to the press, in violation of legal ethics, and because his report included lengthy pornographic descriptions which were humiliating yet irrelevant to the legal case.

The whole investigation was done in a transparent way and millions of people all over the world came to know the details of Clinton’s sexual relationship with the intern were exposed.  It can be argued that, the procedure was not “respectful” for a president, but US law allowed Starr to do so.

If  that much humiliation can be directed at a US President, while Bangladesh or any other foreign country remain “untroubled” by it, as it was entirely a matter well within US jurisdiction, we can’t understand why Moriarty is so “deeply troubled” by Dr. Yunus case.

As far as Hilary is concerned, it was she who had to bear all the pain and embarrassments resulted from the improper action of her husband and the unkind and ruthless investigation process and media trial that followed. Hilary was the innocent victim of the Monica affair. Still, she never questioned the US system or the right of the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in conducting his investigation as he found fit. So this came to us as a shock when we see Hilary is taking a position on the YUNUSGATE where she questions the sovereign right of Bangladesh State to investigate any alleged irregularities and taking actions the state considered necessary.

Oscar winning film maker Roman Polanski is still a fugitive for his alleged sexual offence to a 13-year-old girl back in 1960s. Oscar win did not place Polanski above the law. It’s the beauty of US legal system, it’s this idea of American justice that inspires us all over the rest of the world.

So it’s a big surprise to us  when, Moriarty, above all people  tries to trivialise Yunus’ alleged crime by saying its a mere “procedural”  matter and claims that USA is “deeply troubled” by Bangladesh governments action.

So what are the facts?

Grameen Bank is a statutory public authority created by the Grameen Bank Ordinance, 1983 [Ordinance No. XLVI of 1983] promulgated by military dictator General Ershad.

Under Article 152 of the Bangladesh Constitution the term “Statutory public authority” means any authority, corporation or body the activities or the principal activities of which are authorized by any Act, Ordinance, Order or instrument having the force of law in Bangladesh.”

Grameen Bank is not an independent entity which operates outside the purview of Governmental process as a State Organ.

Grameen Bank’s legal status is distinct from an association of persons such as a company, trust or cooperative which associations may be formed under a law but not by the law itself and which associations of persons are not statutory public authorities and therefore not State organs/instruments of State.

Contrary to the popular view, as a State organ/instrument, Grameen Bank has not been founded by any individual person, or group of persons. Its existence, continued operations and dissolution [winding up] are dependent on the State acting through the Government although Parliament may invoke its legislative authority to repeal the statute [Ordinance] under which it was created.

The Government retains the authority to make rules for holding elections of Directors.

The central argument made by Dr. Yunus’s Lawyer

The board of Directors of Grameen, and not Bangladesh Bank is the appointing authority for the Managing Director of the bank, which is a separate specialized institution.

The Central Bank did not appoint Yunus as the MD of Grameen and the central bank cannot remove him from the office.

The board of directors of Grameen decided in 1999 and again in 2009 that Yunus may hold the office of the MD as long as he wishes.

The Bangladesh Bank had given approval to the appointment of Dr. Yunus back in 1990. Later in 1999, the Bangladesh Bank queried the issue of whether Grameen Bank had obtained further approval and as Grameen Bank responded to these queries Bangladesh Bank raised no further objection.

For 11 years Bangladesh Bank annually and regularly approved Grameen activities.

Section 36 of the Grameen Bank Ordinance 1983 is not applicable to Yunus , as there is no age limit for his retirement according to Grameen Bank’s service rules of 2001.

The Facts

According to the letter of approval from Bangladesh Bank regarding the appointment of Yunus as the MD of Grameen Bank by Grameen Bank board in 1990, the central bank clearly states that, the board of directors of Grameen Bank will make regulation under section 36 of the Grameen Bank ordinance 1983 and after the regulation is published in official gadget it will be effective. However, if the terms of the regulation is changed in new regulation then in case of appointing the MD, re-approval of Bangladesh Bank must be taken.

As the terms of the regulation of the appointment of MD of Grameen Bank are changed in Grameen Bank’s service rules of 2001 where no age limit for Yunus is incorporated, it was a requirement on the board’s part to take re-approval from Bangladesh Bank to make Yunus’s reappointment as the MD of Grameen Bank to be legally valid which was never taken.

There is an interesting clause in the Grameen Bank’s service rules of 2001.

In article 7 where it is stated that in case of the MD there will be no age limit, it also states that the service rule of Grameen Bank will not be applicable to the MD.

Now, if that is the case, then according to this 2001 service rules, Dr. Yunus is beyond the scope of the very service rule that his lawyer claims gives him the right to continue as the MD beyond 60 years of age.

And how can a person be beyond the rules/regulation of an institution is beyond our comprehension. We are afraid it’s this very tendency of placing Yunus above the law that has led to this present crisis.

The fact is, as Yunus has passed 60 year age limit to continue his service as a Grameen Bank employee, it was within the rightful authority of Bangladesh Bank to take actions against him.

No board of directors can appoint anyone as MD or formulate regulations/service rules that are unlawful according to the law of the land.

The Godfather of Microcredit

While Mafuz Anam  was busy hailing  Yunus as the messiah of microcredit, others have pointed out the irregularities that Dr. Yunus has already committed  regarding Grameen Bank’s operation and dubbed  him as the Godfather of microcredit. (Mark Engler, on 19th feb, 2010 in an article published in “The independent”) One of them, Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury identifies the following:

Grameen Bank is authorised to lend only to the landless poor:

Grameen Bank is authorised to provide credit and other services to landless persons in the rural areas. It is not authorised to lend money to any person [or entity] other than the landless persons including Grameen Krishi Foundation, Grameen Motsho Foundation and Bigyan Gonoshikha Kendro as indeed it is not to Packages Corporation which it has done.

Packages Corporation Limited:

Grameen Bank has undertaken a Managing Agency on behalf of Packages Corporation Limited ["Packages"], a family enterprise owned by Dr. Yunus’ father, Mr. Dula Meah and his family in which Professor Yunus and his brothers, Abdus Salam and Mohammad Ibrahim are directors. Included under the terms of the Agreement, Grameen Bank and Packages Corporation would share losses on 50- 50 basis, Grameen Bank would have access to the loans taken by Packages Corporation and Grameen Bank would lend money to Packages Corporation.

Brothers appointed in entities created:

In one of these entities, brother of Dr. Yunus, one Dr. Mohammad Ibrahim has been made Executive Director, whilst Professor Yunus assumes the position of Chairman. Another brother of the Nobel laureate, Mohammed Jahangir is generally looking after the public relations of Grameen Bank and other enterprises of Grameen Bank Group.

Furnishing Guarantees not authorised by law:

In the Bangladesh Bank Audit Report, mention is made of guarantees having been granted by Grameen Bank favouring several of the entities created by Grameen Bank. These guarantees are not authorised by law or under GB’s own Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Formation of companies without authorisation in law:

Grameen Bank is a statutory body created by an Ordinance authorised to purchase shares of anybody corporate the object of which is to provide services to landless persons in the rural areas. Grameen Bank is not authorised to sponsor, subscribe, and incorporate new companies such as it has done.

Unlawful transfer of funds to other entities formed by Grameen Bank itself:

In all cases where Grameen Bank has formed new entities, companies, for profit or not-for-profit, financial institutions without obtaining a licence from Bangladesh Bank, trusts and hybrid entities, it has transferred funds or provided guarantees against loans taken by these new entities which it is not authorised to do.

Professor Yunus’ continuance as Managing Director beyond 60 years in violation of the relevant laws:

His continuance in office as Managing Director in violation of Clause 50 (1) of the Grameen Bank Service Regulations wherein it is provided that the age limit for employees of Grameen Bank shall be 60 years. This provision read together with Bangladesh Bank’s rules regarding the appointment and reappointment of heads of Banks and non-banking financial institutions only re-affirm his unlawful continuance in office for more than 10 years.

Employment and Service Rules: whether made without authorisation:

A serious question which has been raised is that the present Service Regulations of Grameen Bank has been made without authorisation in law. Indeed, these have been gazetted, but the Rules are deficient inasmuch, contrary to law, since, as delegated legislation, they are shown [i] as have been gazetted in the name of Professor Yunus who is Managing Director of Grameen Bank; [ii]. There is no reference to the parent law from which such Rule – Making authority is derived nor any reference to the lawful person/legal entity upon whose instructions Professor Yunus has gazetted the Rules of Service;[iii] Professor Yunus is not authorised to make Service Regulations for Grameen Bank. To ascertain whether any offence under this head has been committed or not it may be prudent to check the law relating to the notification in the gazette by statutory bodies.

Grameen–Gonoshasthya Textiles Mills Limited:

Here, at the time of the formation of the company shares were allotted in the personal name of Professor Yunus, as indeed, all of the other subscribers of the company so formed, is self aggrandisement.

Non-payment of savings of borrowers:

This case is as unfortunate as it can get. Borrowers’ savings were put away into a fund to which they had no access. Borrowers departed without their savings between 1988 and 1992.

Retrenchment – unfairly and on the basis of non existent Rules – coercion:

The retrenchment of thousands [about 4000] of employees between 2000 and 2003, shown as voluntary retirement, was not in accordance with any valid rules of service, and constitutes a blatant case against the rights of employees of a statutory body [whose fundamental rights also appear to have been violated].

Activities: undertaking travel abroad for non-Grameen Bank purposes without authorisation from competent authorities:

It would be an issue to examine if the regulations relating to the undertaking of foreign travel by the Chief Executive of a statutory body requires the taking of permission from a competent authority and if permission was given for periods of time not consistent with pertinent rules / regulations by the competent authority for non–Grameen Bank purposes.

We would add only three more things with this long list of irregularities by Dr. Yunus.

First, in a book, Grameen Bank At A Glance, written by Yunus and published in December, 2010,  under the heading Grameen Network, its clearly stated, “Grameen Bank does not own any share of the following companies in Grameen Network. Nor has it given any loan or received any loan from any of these companies. They are all independent companies, registered under Companies Act of Bangladesh, with obligation to pay all the taxes, and duties, just like any other company in the country.”

Then the name of 27 such companies are given in a list which starts with Grameen Phone Ltd.

Mahfuz Anam wrote, “Under the visionary leadership of Yunus, GB moved into innovative partnerships with global companies like Danone, Adidas, Viola, etc. to provide nutritious yogurt, cheap shoes and safe drinking water at affordable prices. Its stunningly successful partnership has been with Telenor of Norway, leading to the formation of GrameenPhone (GP), by far the most successful mobile company in the country, now the highest taxpaying company at Tk 900 crore annually.”

But according to Dr. Yunus’ own admission that none of these companies are owned by Grameen Bank. Now the 900 core taka question is, who owns the shares of say, Grameen Phone?  Who are the individuals who are being handpicked by Yunus to own the shares of all these companies created by using Grameen brand name, goodwill, resources, networks and widely held misperception that Grameen Bank owns shares in those companies? To whom the profits go?

If Yunus was so much in to  his crusade against poverty then why it never occurred to him that profits from those companies should be, in part, transferred to Grameen Bank, so that it can subsidize its interest rates  and offer a lower and reduced rates to its poor borrowers?

It never occurred to him as he knew, right from the beginning, though a journalist of Mafuz Anam’s stature never bothered to know, that in none of these companies Grameen Bank has any shares whatsoever. All these companies are created by Yunus by an innovative partnership with global companies like Danone, Adidas, Viola, etc and not Grameen Bank. These are companies that have nothing to do with Grameen Bank, and Yunus only used its goodwill and network.

The poor rural women, members or theoretically owners of Grameen Bank, do not have a single share in Grameen Phone. Then who own the shares?  How are the directors chosen? By whom?

How can a misperception of this magnitude be continued for so many years that these are all Grameen Bank owned companies?

We would also like to ask how much has been paid in dividends to the Grameen Bank members/ share holders so far by the bank?

We would really like to hear what Mr. Anam has to say about this.

Grameen Bank sent us a rejoinder regarding the publication of a story in Amader Shomoy where we reported that Grameen Bank had rented out 11,000 square feet of Grameen Bank headquarters floor space to Yunus Centre for only one taka per month.

In the rejoinder, sent on a Grameen Bank letterhead, it was claimed that, on 2nd May 2007, the board of directors of the bank decided that in order to promote the philosophy and activities of Nobel winner Dr. Yunus, a nobel laureate secretariat would be formed and Grameen Bank would give a floor of Grameen Bank building consisting of 11,000 square feet to the Nobel laureate secretariat without any rent.

On 24th June 2008, the Grameen Bank board of directors in a meeting decided that the 16th floor of the Grameen Bank Building will be leased to Nobel laureate trust for 25 years.  On 24th July, 2008, a Nobel laureate trust was formed by making the chairman of the board of directors of the bank as the chairman of the Nobel laureate trust.

(Interestingly, the trust was formed after the decision to lease them the 16th floor was taken). According to the board decision, Grameen Bank and the Nobel laureate trust signed an agreement by which the trust was given the lease of the 16th floor for 25 years. And according to another decision of that same board meeting, the Nobel laureate trust signed an agreement with Yunus Centre on August 3 and leased the 16th floor to Yunus Centre for 24 years at a yearly rent of only 1,000 taka.

It’s clear from the rejoinder, all those things were done only to give Yunus Centre the lease of the 16th floor at a yearly rent of 1000 taka in a way that would minimize the future potential chances of corruption/nepotism charges.

Another hilarious fact stated in the rejoinder is that, the Yunus Centre has 8 (eight) (yes, you are reading it correctly, no printing mistake) employees working for it ranging from CEO to peon.

It has been claimed that Grameen Bank covers 8.4 million people. However, a number of researchers have claimed that the figure would be much lower, close to 7 million. And if we take in to account the active borrowers, it would be even less. The myth of 98 percent recovery rate is also being challenged as grossly incorrect as much of it is glossed over by dodgy accounting procedures.

Finally, much fanfare has been made regarding Social Business promoted by Yunus. We would just like to ask one thing, if the essence of social business is to doing business is non-profit then why on earth all the so called social business companies, created by Yunus in partnership with global companies, are registered under Companies Act of Bangladesh as for-profit companies and not under the same law as not-for-profit companies?

The strategy of creating confusion and making contradictory claims is evident in Dr. Yunus’s position regarding Social Business too. One such example is given below from the FAQ section on social business in the Yunus Centre website (http://www.yunuscentre.org/).

Should social business avoid making profit?

No, it does not.  The first aim of social business is to achieve the social objective in a financially sustainable way.  It should not give up social objective to make profit beyond sustainability.  Making profit without sacrificing social objective is welcome.  Social businesses do not give dividends to the investors, all the profit is reinvested in the company for expansion and improving the quality of the product or service.

If the above definition of social business is what Dr. Yunus believes, it is by no means something new or invented by Yunus. In the Companies Act of Bangladesh, under section 28 there is a provision of establishing a not-for-profit company. Those non -profit companies share similar philosophy regarding business as Yunus model of social businesses do, i.e.  directors/shareholders would not take any dividends from the companies and the profits should be reinvested or used to meet some social cause/objective.

Can someone who started a social business decide to take profit?

Yes, a social business can be transformed into PMB if the owner wants it. Since there is no law governing the creation and termination of a social business, no procedure has to be followed. When laws will be passed there will clear guidance as to the protocol of registration and termination of the status.

Here we can see how Yunus contradicts his own philosophy. On the one hand, he is saying that investors/share holders of social businesses would not take any dividends, at the same time he is saying that as there is no law forbidding them to do so, which is not true as there are laws to prevent not-for-profit company shareholders/investors from taking dividends. They can take dividends if they wish to. If that’s the case then all the other principles of social business has no relevance or meaning whatsoever.  This is a dominant trait that can be found in most of Yunus’s activity. There is always a clause that makes all the clauses, good principles irrelevant and meaningless and gives a certain individual almost absolute power to be exercised according to his wishes. We need not mention who that particular individual in most cases turns out to be.

We would like to draw attention of our readers to another important thing. Our finance minister admitted that he is still a friend of Yunus and that the image of the country was damaged as the government removed Yunus from Grameen Bank. In this respect we would like to humbly ask the finance minister to resign from his position as, clearly, his judgment is clouded by the fact that he is a friend of Yunus. How can a finance minister say in public that removal of Yunus lawfully from a position he was illegally occupying (at least that’s the government position in this matter) damages our country’s image? It has rather enhanced our image as we have proved no one is above the law in this country. If an exception is made in Yunus’s case by reaching an “amicable” solution, then how can the government, the finance minister or Bangladesh Bank claim any moral authority over sanctioning punitive measures on other banks/ directors of other banks that would breach the law of the land?

We would like to appreciate the bold position taken by our foreign minister in this regard.

We would like to request Mr. Muhith to reconsider his position immediately, as there is clearly a conflict of interest here. We quote Mr. Muhith: “There is no greatness in holding on to a post”.

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Nayeemul Islam Khan is editor of Amader Shomoy, a Bangla language national newspaper.

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79 Responses to “ Yunusgate: If you can’t convince, create confusion ”

  1. Adil Khan on March 8, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Author’s no-surprise no-big-deal article has done well to repeat what most government spokespersons have relayed so far on the issue.

    However, what is new in N. I Khan’s article is his assertion that it is the government and not Yunus that “established” the Grameen Bank. This is probably the most laughable of all his claims. The author either suffers from memory loss or does not understand the conceptual distinction between “founder/establisher” and licensing/approving authority.

    His article is one of many narratives that has come through the floodgate of Hasina’s vilification project. He may also read Joy’s article on the issue and may draw some consolations too.

    Finally, for those who knows the author’s current organisational affiliation – Amader Shomoy – is enough to reveal the quality and integrity of his professional standing – it is anything but credible!

    • Zaman on March 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      That’s a pity, Mr. Khan, You did not get the point either. Professor Yunus is no doubt the initiator of the much-publicised concept of micro-credit and Grameen Bank. But technically speaking, if you want to operate a bank in Bangladesh, you either can operate it private or in public sector. GB was established by the then Government of Bangladesh as a specialised banking entity with Prof. Yunus as its executioner. So, in legal sense, it was founded by the government. But obviously the then Ershad government did not do it on its own, rather Prof. Yunus had to do a lot of convincing for a long time. The concept of the bank can genuinely be credited to the Noble laureate, but within the legal jurisdiction of Bangladesh, the bank must be considered as a public entity.

  2. joena ahmed on March 7, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    It is not a contest between Mujib versus Yunus or Hasina versus Yunus.

    It seems that everything is not honky dory with Dr Yunus and Grameen. And if there is any dirt there, it surely needs to be investigated, no matter who the person is. There is no exception in the law for the Nobel laurate or the prime minister.

    From the correspondence with the finace minister, it appears that Dr Yunus was treating the Grameen as his fiefdom and the Board as his rubber stamp. It has happened in the past but it cannot continue in the future.

  3. Choudhury on March 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I started reading Nayeemul Islam Khan’s lengthy article then I gave up. When you do not have substance, you fill it up with volume. That is what Mr. Islam tried to do in his this attempt to prove his pseudo journalistic acumen. ‘One of the biggest beneficiaries of 1/11′ is now trying to tag a line which he thinks will save his back. Try he may do, but surely this article is not good enough.

  4. Ruhul Amin on March 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I read the article and all the responses. Those sending comments are more partisan than Hasina or Khaleda. They did not judge the article of Nayeemul Islam Khan properly.

  5. Syed Raihan on March 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Interesting article, the only problem is that the article seems to be a lot more confusing than delivering the important facts – repeating the same theme in different words at different times!

    And also, wasn’t Mr. Nayeemul I Khan’s integrity in question in recent years? Then how do we trust him?

  6. Neyamal Kabir on March 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    In 2007, Nayeemul Islam Khan was printing DGFI propaganda in his newspaper against BNP, AL, etc. Then in 2008, when the winds changed, he quickly switched sides and started criticising army on talk shows. End of 2008, he wrote the famous open letter to Tarique Zia advising him to spend some time abroad, become more educated, and come back and lead the country in the future. Now in 2011, he has become an Awami League supporter against Yunus. A truly flexible man, I must say.

  7. Khairul Hassan on March 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    The writer keeps talking about legality and “above the law”. First of all, the government will never be able to create a bank like Grameen, secondly most if not all ministers, past and present, do something or other that is “above the law”.

  8. Dr.Kishaloy Sur on March 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Nobel prize awarded to him for “Peace”! Not for Economy,which required fundamental empirical verification of the theory of Micro-credit,which claims to be a panacea to eradicate poverty in poor nations. Nobel “peace prize” is a political prize! A prize determined by superpowers. As Obama got it last year, even-though, the world sees no sign of peace!

    An economic concept/question like microcredit can alleviate poverty is an empirical one. It can be confirmed or refuted by experimental evidence, not by guess work or intuition! Till now there’s no concrete evidence that micocredit has a significant impact on poverty statistics of Bangladesh. Till 45% of of Bangladeshis live below poverty line ($1/-per day), is it not sufficient enough to refute micocredit concept?

  9. kulsum on March 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    In 2007, Nayeemul Islam Khan was printing DGFI propaganda in his newspaper against BNP, AL, etc. Then in 2008, when the winds changed, he quickly switched sides and started criticising army on talk shows. End of 2008, he wrote the famous open letter to Tarique Zia advising him to spend some time abroad, become more educated, and come back and lead the country in the future. Now in 2011, he has become an Awami League supporter against Yunus. A truly flexible man, I must say.

  10. kulsum on March 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    The way Mr. Nayeemul has written the article is just hilarious. He just wants to appease Hasina. Muhammad Yunus institutionalised the microcredit to motivate world policymakers. This achievement is sufficient for all of his dignified prizes. Remember about penicillin. It was not new. The treatment was used by aboriginal African.

  11. sajjad on March 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Mr Khan is a confused person, and I can see Mr M Rahman above is another. The issue is the govt’s, especially our PM Hasina’s approach towards this. Dr Yunus may be a good or bad person, his getting Nobel Prize may have been a bane for him, his management of Grameen Bank may have been faulty, but how can a govt declare war against him? Is the govt trying to hide something behind this Yunusgate and bad, bad cricket in this month of March?

  12. M. U .Ahmed on March 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    The PRO of the AL govt like Nayeemul Islma Khan think as follows:

    “Second, by taking actions against the illegal activities/irregularities/unauthorised actions by Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank board, the government in fact is enhancing the image of the country by giving out the strong message that there is zero tolerance from present government on corruption and irregularities.”

    AL has zero tolerance against corruption and irregularities!!!

  13. Adnan on March 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    The result of all this will be the following: Yunus will leave Grameen Bank eventually. The government will put a lackey as MD of GB. Grameen Bank will crumble within three years of his departure. And Bangladesh will be the ultimate loser.

  14. LRR on March 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    No one is above the law of the land. The so-called great people should be more ethical than the general people.

  15. Nuvo on March 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    In this free media era, Nayeemul Islam type journalist became the jack of all trades.
    He should remember that GB is the only organisation where every member is the owner of the organisation.

  16. Morshed on March 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    To, all editors:
    Try to solve problem. Do not create problem.
    Regards,
    Morshed, USA

    • Doyel on March 7, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      Good piece of writing from Mr. Khan. Let us make sure that “no body is beyond law”, even if he/she is Albert Einstein (rebirth, let alone Nobel Laureate).

    • Doyel on March 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      To solve problem rightly, you need to go to the root of the problem. Otherwise, it will be a hybrid solution and debate over this will continue forever. Let us not run away from the truth. Let us encourage debate and not be in a military mode.

  17. Tuhin Islam on March 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Hmmm….interesting piece. There are more than one side of the story and each side must be argued, explored and studied. However, my problem is the intention of the government which I find questionable. Therefore any one defending the gov’t position i.e.e people like Nayeemul Islam Khan who is alleged to be a beneficiary of the past caretaker government makes me even more suspicious.

    Now I’m pretty much sure that there is a concerted effort by the government to destroy Dr. Yunus. We Bangladeshis don’t have any role-model for us to look up to. If the government succeeds in its scheme we’ll be left with none. A whole generation will have nothing to look up to.

  18. Mohammad Mohsin on March 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    To many, Dr. Yunus is far bigger than Bangabandhu.This seems to be the major concern for Hasina government.

    My open challenge to Mr. Nayeemul Islam Khan, establish such an organisation like Grameen Bank and successfully manage the institution, then dare come and criticise Yunus. You sound like those so-called intellectual students sitting in a cafe of Aziz Super Market criticising Rabindranath Tagore, ”Rabindranath is no poet! Anyone, even I, can write better than him.”

    • A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah on May 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      To many, Dr. Yunus is far bigger than Bangabandhu. This seems to be the major concern for Hasina government. It sounds interesting, but no comment.

      A few words about the Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore: There were many factors. Let us not use the word: “manipulations”.

      1. Tagore was presented as an Anglo-Indian before the Nobel Committee. This was never disclosed by Visva Bharati; 2. Ignoring Americans, it was for the first time that the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to a non-European; 3. Interestingly, Tagore never visited the Swedish Academy for about 7 years even after the award; 4. Tagore never made any contact or speech marking the Nobel Prize (he just made a two-line acknowledgement only); 5. The British Ambassador received Tagore’s Nobel prize in person; 6. The prize medal was home delivered at Jorasanko in Calcutta; 7. None of the Nobel Committee members either knew Bengali or read Tagore’s writings; and 8. The library of the Swedish Academy had no book by Tagore accessioned in its record at that time. What do these points signify?

      I do not want to interrupt anybody. I understand that Rabindranath Tagore is sacrilege to many of his fans. But the truth must be spoken out.

  19. Sam on March 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Dirty politics always targets the most talented, internationally acclaimed people like Dr. Muhammad Yunus. The person who criticises him, should do a soul searching and then attempt a piece against Yunus.

    Good work is universal and will be treated with honor and will triumph over hatred and dirty politics. Those who are behind the drama will face the same humiliation someday.

    • Manzur,Australia on March 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      It’s very unfortunate for the whole nation. All those corrupt politicians abandon and dump our talented people and pick yes-men, who are not either capable nor can contribute anything but patronise, pocket peoples’ money and promote corruption. This is mainly why the country’s going backward whereas all our neighbouring nations proceeding towards the goal of becoming developed nations.

      Personally, I don’t care who is in power, as most if not all politicians are corrupt. Whoever is in power, they start using Bangladesh as their family property. This attitude needs to be changed. We also need to stop infighting. Otherwise, the day is not far away when Bangladesh will become a hollow basket case.

  20. Hossain on March 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    There is a Bengali proverb “Shokter Bhakta, Noromer Jom”. This applies 100 percent as regards the Yunus issue. Since he is a close ally of Clinton family & hence USA, every decision of the govt, even if it is a lawful action, attracts crticism by the mass. Again we have proved by our response to the issue that in our country, law is only for general people, not for powerful people.

    When foreign diplomats make comment on our internal issue, BNP does not see it as a threat to sovereignty. It’s good for BNP that the US diplomat, not the Indian diplomat intervenes in our national issue. I wonder what would be the comment of Begum Zia had Moriarty been from India.

  21. Anam on March 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Mr. Nayeemul Islam Khan,

    As I can see, you have failed to fathom the respect Dr. Yunus enjoys in this country. People like you and other pro-AL lobby are coming up with these flimsy arguments just to malign our Nobel laureate.

    The other night, Farashuddin (Ex-governor of BB), in his pathetic effort in a talk show said, ‘after liberation, people under poverty was 6.5 crore, but now it is around 8 crore. So, where is the effect of microcredit? Percentage doesn’t matter, how many people were elevated from poverty that matters.”

    How can an educated person make a comment like this? Why are these Awami League supporters so blind?

  22. Reader1 on March 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Dear Nayeemul,
    During caretaker govt we were eager to hear what you had to say because during that period, it seemed that you were talking in the right way. After 2009 you changed your colour. Why is that?

    Don’t get confused. Do remember that the general people always side with the truth.

    BR,
    Reader1

  23. Nilima on March 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Nayeemul Islam Khan,

    I don’t think you know enough about Grameen Bank, microcredit, social business or even economics. First learn about these, then write.

    Everybody can see what you are up to. You are trying, along with a few other editors and newspapers, to malign the good names of some renowned people of the country. I think you are, in collaboration with your friends, trying to create chaos with a view to assisting some vested interests.

  24. imran on March 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    still moderation going on!

  25. Md. Mujibul Alam Khan on March 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you, Nayeemul Islam Khan, for a fair debate on the thickly veiled ‘Yunus Controversy.’

    I feel ashamed of our media, (some patented) intellectuals, and politicians confronting the probe in to Grameen Bank although they claim themselves ‘committed to the nation.’

    Politicians started buzzing on the press only after U.S. machineries failed to scare Bangladesh government off the probe! Ershad, Rob, and Khaleda Zia among others condemned the “harassment” of Nobel laureate professor Muhammad Yunus.

    Does any one need to tell them that the unprecedented U.S. intervention only propagates corruption of professor Muhammad Yunus? The temptation of power is too strong to deny!

    Hope our politicians will not repeat their past mistakes and succumb to foreign prescriptions.

    Microcedit has reached to its peak. Now is time to decline, and, it is declining. Yunus aptly moved to the next stage of his New Capitalist Venture in the World of Poverty – ‘Social Business!’

    Moriarty and his employers are deeply disturbed because a government probe into Grameen Bank has come as a challenge to their dream of ‘Privatizing the Developing World’ under the camouflage of poverty eradication.

    People who take pain to see Yunus in court should check their emotion in control. He could return home safe and sound, bringing his dignity intact, once declared Saint by the court. Mean time, the reading of “Banker to the Poor” might be of great help. He wrote about how Krishi Bank, Janata Bank and Bangladesh Bank created Grameen Bank and paid due respect to him. There is a hint that he exploited the political development in Bangladesh in 1982. His fantasy with the One Eleven regime thus reiterates his pathetic nature of a political opportunist.

    With full knowledge of the devastating impact he continued promoting Monsanto until today. Once Vandana Shiva told me, “I wrote to him when he wanted to start a joint venture; he then deserted the project.” Shrewd Yunus did desert the project but not Monsanto. Monsanto along with other U.S businesses initiated Microcredit Summit Campaign in 1997. It is alleged that many NGO/MFIs around the world were encouraged to replace Micro Loans with “Seed Loan” under the influence of Microcredit Summit Campaign. BRAC promotes Monsanto products, seed and pesticides.

    While microcredit borrowers struggle dawn to dusk to earn pennies for repayment of a loan as tiny as US$50.00; millions of dollars move safely and swiftly from the lands of poor to the investors in USA and Europe.

    Microcredit being questioned and verified in the soil it was bloomed put U.S. interests around the globe in serious risk. Strong regulations in Micro Finance Industry will make it difficult for MFIs to pursue U.S. interests in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Morocco South Africa, Ethiopia, Russia, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and, Kazakhstan.

  26. arosh ali on March 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Those who think Grameen, like most politicians and businesspeople, Grameen was operating in that manner, can they come up with facts not rumours?

    With all respects in politics there is only one Mujib in Bangladesh even with all reservation and in finance it is only Yunus in the world, providing dignity to the poor; yes having access to it is a gift in the name of micro-credit.

    It is no surprise to see, people of low talent or criminal intent wanting to destroy it.

  27. ajnobi on March 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I know my words will not be published on bdnews24.com, I have a question: – who have gained form this sense and nonsense going on with Mr. Yunus? The only winner is some so-called journalists like Toufique Imrose Khalidi, Nayeemul Islam Khan, Abed Khan, [including some others] and the political chamchas.

    You do have brain and so do we. May be we are not so-called educated like you, we all very clearly understand that, what Dr. Yunus has done and earned, if you all three are reborn again you will not able achieve it.

  28. SHAH MUHAMMAD MUTASIM BILLAH on March 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Dear Nayeem Bhai,
    Salute to you for writing such an informative, logical interpretative article. Though it’s a commentary, it will open the eyes of one-eyed men.

    You mentioned so many unknown untold points of `Yunusgate’. We respect Dr. Yunus and his social thinking and but it doesn’t mean we support his wrongdoings.

    In your article you raised questions about the finance minister. Why not Bangladesh Bank? Where were they for so many years?

    Anyway again thanks for your bold writing.

    Mutasim Billah
    smmbjs@yahoo.com

  29. Ezajur Rahman on March 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Nayeemul Islam Khan demands quite high standards and accountability from both the finance minister AMA Muhith and Dr Muhammad Yunus. Of course he demands no such accountability or high standards from his preferred Netri and anyone who is a diehard Netrist. AMA Muhith is the only face of moderation and reason in this whole affair. But as his own people are hanging him out to dry, it probably would be wise for him to resign and let these netrists hang themselves as they hound anyone who does not fall at the feet of their Netri.

  30. Najmul Hussain on March 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Mr. Khan
    Your long article could be of substances for any debate or academic discussions subjecting Dr. Younus’s current affair. But certainly not a congenial ground for political implications to follow for the future course of actions of League politics in home and abroad.
    I am sure, her abrupt and stubborn attitude concerning this issue will affect Awami politics in future adversely and we would have no choice but to remain simply as on-lookers.

  31. Rubo on March 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    As a Bangladeshi, I am proud of Prof. Md Yunus for his outstanding achievements. He is the first Bangladeshi to receive a Nobel Prize.

    Possibly, he is also the only Bangladeshi to have been awarded the presidential medal in the US.
    It is my belief that Grameen has not forced anyone to take loans from this bank. It is the choice of the borrower. If he or she takes loan with 32 percent interests and can afford to return it on time then it is unfair to claim Dr. Yunus is sucking poor peoples’ blood.

    The controversy regarding Prof Yunus started not in Bangladesh but in Norway. There is a vigorous campaign going on against him in the West too.

    I would suggest him to come to an understanding with the govt. to ensure his smooth exit from the Grameen Bank.

    It is also not necessary for a person of his esteem to join politics. He can still live an honourable life without becoming an MP or a Minister.

  32. Zaman on March 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Quite well-written, Mr. Khan. Refuting of the arguments put forward in favour of Prof. Yunus’ case is excellent. And this is particularly necessary for all citizens of Bangladesh to realise the principle of rule of law. But it misses the main point altogether: the politics of the whole saga. It is rather the politics that determines what and why agents/players do certain things in regards to the issues, not the technicalities of legal points. Legal rules and regulations are merely used to serve the respective interests — be it the government/Awami League/Hasina/Muhit or Grameen Bank/defenders of MC/Yunus.

    Elite forces are powerful in any society and everyone needs to hear what they say. But not necessarily buckle under their pressure. Once again, thank you for this write-up. It’s worth defending your position.

  33. Nasim Haider on March 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Personally, I feel there are certain things those are beyond discussion. You just have to have faith, and believe in it. I guess you get the tone.

  34. Omar Farook on March 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I am also tempted to give a silly opinion. I do not want to think narrowly, but very tempted.

    Is it because Bangladesh is being branded more by Yunus and not by Bangabandhu? Ha ha.

    I grew up studying history made by H M Ershad. But I tell you, my respect for Bangabandhu is still strong. Cause, his contribution was that big that no textbook error can erase them. And I am sure your generation, who experienced his time would help us being better parents, seniors.

  35. Omar Farook on March 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    The question becomes vital when all of a sudden you specifically try to bring him under law, while ignoring many others. It is a question of government’s priority.

    If you talk about law, I would talk about the corporate aggression by few people in the country, who are lawfully becoming the godfather. From airlines to school, from stock exchange influences to shaking hands to land grabbers- all are happening lawfully.

    I am not advocating for Yunus, but a government with 233 seats in the parliament could be a strenght of our country for next few decades. Alas! This time too, we could not break the cycle.

    Your writing sounds like a research paper, very good one. But it won’t reduce our frustration as a nation.

  36. Omar Farooque on March 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Great article!

    “If that much humiliation can be directed at a US President, while Bangladesh or any other foreign country remain “untroubled” by it, as it was entirely a matter well within US jurisdiction, we can’t understand why Moriarty is so “deeply troubled” by Dr. Yunus case.”

    I wonder why our foreign minister or finance minister cannot come up with this type of answer instead of resorting to monosyllabic assertion.

    We want them to defend the government’s stand in a more factual way like this article is written.

    However, I wish I could fully agree with “Second, by taking actions against the illegal activities/irregularities/unauthorised actions by Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank board, the government in fact is enhancing the image of the country by giving out the strong message that there is zero tolerance from present government on corruption and irregularities”. It’s only partly, if at all, true.

    This action seems to be more politically motivated like the Government’s initiative to try the war criminals even though we have far more pressing needs to attend at the moment.

    Once again, a great work and I look forward to hearing from the apostles of Dr. Yunus/Moriarty/Hilary Clinton, what they have to say about your findings.

  37. Shireen Scheik Mainuddin on March 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Thank you. Very well presented. The facts speak for themselves.

  38. LRR on March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Congratulations Mr. Nayeemul Islam Khan. When the so-called patriots are praising Yunus by falsifying the facts, you are correctly and courageously pointing the truth.

  39. Zaman on March 7, 2011 at 9:32 am

    The masterly article of Mr. Nayeemul Islam Khan is such praiseworthy that PM Sheikh Hasina should offer him a post of Prime Public Relation Adviser to PM immediately. Why PM should bother with his associates like AG, Governor of BB or Finance Minister when Mr N.I. Khan is there?

  40. joena ahmed on March 7, 2011 at 8:58 am

    An informative piece. Thanks

  41. MBI Munshi on March 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

    An article of impeccable logic and clarity, very articulate and extremely well argued at the same time. One of the best articles I have read in bdnews24.com. A dispassionate and objective assessment of the current controversy surrounding Yunus. I would request Prof. Yunus to respond to this article and the reply be published in bdnews24.com.

  42. still one point missing! on March 7, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Mr. Nayeemul I Khan covered all the points on the burning questions of Yunus and GB. But in my view , one point is still seem to me missing and that is why Mr. Yunus does not want to see the GB could survive after him. It should be his pleasure to see that without him GB can run and survive smoothly. It should be the expectation of a creator, if he really is. If Dr Yunus expire today( God doesn’t do it) then what will be consequences of GB! What Yunus presently doing is action of NIRO ie, after me Rome be burn to ashes, the activities of Yunus shows the same thing, after him GB no longer survive. We also know the story of step-mother. So no need to write more.

  43. MK on March 7, 2011 at 7:40 am

    It seems Nobel Committe should include the writer of this article for their selection of Nobel Prize from now on. The reason behind Dr.Yunus’s removal has been clearly revealed by the widely known international journals and newspapers like Economist, Guardian, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and many more. I would humbly suggest Mr.Khan to look at all the international news about this boneheaded decision and figure out whether Bangladesh’s image has been enhanced or not. Probably he wants to give a new definition of ‘image’ also.

  44. Mohammad A.R. Bhuiyan on March 7, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Thank you very much for your excellent report or opinion on Yunusgate. This is very informative. I’ve come to know a lot of unknown informations by reading your opinion. But Nayeem Bhai, I think a lot of people are also in the dark about all these informations, all the illegal activities and irragularities by Dr. M. Yunus & his close followers or puppets. This is stunning and surprising to know all these informations.

  45. Jonogon on March 7, 2011 at 5:42 am

    “We would like to request Mr. Muhith to reconsider his position immediately, as there is clearly a conflict of interest here. We quote Mr. Muhith: “There is no greatness in holding on to a post”.”

    In the early days/infant stages of our Republic, the CSP’s used to, technically, rule the country. Every Tom, Dick and Harry used to toe their line. And believe me or not, if you look closely, there are a few of these CSP’s who helped dictators not only take power through unconstitutional means, moreover roam all across the world, convincing and finding “masters” to “temporarily” legitimise these despots’ rule(s). And when the times soured, these same few people found and promoted another despot, ONLY to ensure the continuity of their selfish interests. Even today, you will find some of those renouned former CSP’s continuing that culture, everywhere including Yunus’s organizations or Abed’s or other corrupts in our system.

    After the end of the CSP era, that baton has been taken over, maybe passed on to our Economists, who have been following the lines of the CSP’s to dictate the land ONLY to ensure their interests. These people abound in our nation today. Today, thanks to the mushrooming of so-called NGO’s, financed and powered by foreign powers the CSP trend has just switched hands and still continues. Look closely. What you will find is the self agrandisement of our so-called economists, financed by , mostly the Western SHOKUNS. They don’t care for us, they are more interested in the welfare of their own.

    So when you cite economist Muhith’s comments, I only think of whose interest is prime to him. Is it his boss, the PM’s? Is it the interests of the downtrodden people of his country he is concerned about? NO, it’s his OWN interest he is considering. His comments say one thing, and one thing only. Hell with my Party, the hell with my leader, the hell with my people, the hell with my principles(if I ever had any). All that matters today, like it mattered during my CSP years is MY INTEREST. and NOTHING ELSE!

  46. watching on March 7, 2011 at 5:11 am

    You are everything that’s wrong with journalism in Bangladesh. While I could not bear to read the complete novel of an article without an iota of sensibility, it did not take me a long time to realize the shoddy journalism at work. It is intellectually and morally bankrupt “journalist” like yourself who twist the facts fifteen ways till Sunday in order to confuse the populace. You should give more credit to the younger generation of the country; they are much savvier than to fall for your shoddy arguments. There are no real bases for your arguments.

    Be afraid because when the 70% population of the country (below their 30’s) become disillusioned with the future and express their fury, you and your ruling elites will be on the receiving end.

    Use whatever intellect you retained by yourself (when your stings are not pulled to write what others want you write) to help change the country, not hinder its progress.

  47. Truth_Hurts on March 7, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Very well written. Exposes and clarifies everything. We can’t have dual laws and norms depending on one’s stature in our society. We should all be treated equally.

    It is wrong for Yunus to “invoke” his Western powers to ensure his own solace, to pursue his own selfish interests. On the same line, it is wrong for Hillary, Kerry, Moriarty and the other outsiders to meddle in our internal affairs. It is wrong!

    The days of seeking help from East India Companies to betray and achieve personal gains is over; Yunus should realise that. We didn’t give in in 1971 and neither should we now. Yunuses, Hillaries, Moriarties don’t care about us; they have nothing but their own self interest to defend in this YUNUSGATE chapter of our history.

  48. Iftekhar on March 7, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Nayeemul Islam Khan, just another clown on the stage.

  49. Matiur Rahman on March 7, 2011 at 3:37 am

    I fully concur on the observations, made in this detailed and well-crafted factual piece. I read Mr.Anam`s commentary. I sent my comments on his piece at least twice, but never got printed. I termed his commentary virtually as emotional nonsenses and one-sided with personal bias. The Daily Star has published a long list of laudatory comments about Dr.Yunus. There is no negative comment in the list. This is too good to be true. Something is wrong here in terms of ethical standards of journalism.
    I always have reservations about transparency in GB management.Please refer to my piece on Micro Credit, published in bdnews24.com on Dec 10, 2010.In my view, Pandora`s box on GB is waiting to be opened.It is our moral responsibility to tell the full truth to the world that has been cunningly manipulated for so many years.
    Why is the West so protective of him? Because he serves their purpose.It reminds me of those who got the titles of Khanbahadur and Roybahadur from the British Raj. Nobel Peace Prize is a political football of the West. No one should read much out of it. This is not Nobel Prize in Economics and near it. However, we should give him due respect for his accomplishments. He is great, but not to the extent publicized to the world.
    All his business entities must be investigated fairly and impartially to get to the bottom. No need to be bluffed, again and again.Rightly put, his US defenders have no clean records either.

    • ajnobi on March 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      And I would like to say that bdnews24.com as well Amader Shomoy did not put my comments on their page… so do u understand where we stand?

    • Sa on March 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      Good observation Mr. Rahman. I think the supporters of Mr. Yunus need to talk to diverse poor borrowers from GB in many different villages and hear out their cries. GB has given out microcredit facilities to millions; there should be a well-conducted honest statistical analysis on how many of those millions could recover from poverty till date, and their corresponding percentages; with an economic view of Effective Annual Interest Rate system and relevant collateralisation. It is easy to honour and support the so-called Nobel Laureates being lived in a luxury, but difficult to identify the consequential significance from the field of poverty and inequality. A large number of our politicians showed us how to rob assets from those who HAVE, but Mr. Yunus showed us how to rob everything from those who HAVE-NOT. Microcredit itself is not the culprit here, the method of application is, and much needed to be understood by the people with analogical abilities.

  50. Robin on March 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Professor Yunus is bigger than Bangladesh.

    The AL government still cannot fathom the importance of US reaction for the very prosperity of Bangladesh. Hasina probably forgot the 1974 famine because the US halted the food shipment.
    The modern day equivalent, RMG shipment to the US, may bring the similar disaster to Bangladesh. Cadre based politics doesn’t work any more.

    • Ali on March 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Mr. Robin, Sorry, NO ONE is bigger than Bangladesh. Not even Bangabondhu.
      What we need to have is the skill to manoeuvre ourselves diplomatically and not to hurt, but rather on a win-win footing.

      The use of food as a weapon is well known to the world, the silent world. Let us please try to rise above party politics and look at the national issues. Revenge drags anyone back!
      What happened to our MDG initiatives and 21st century election pledges?

      • karim on March 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm

        Bangabandhu is far greater than anyone can imagine.

        Nobel Peace Prize is a political football of the West. No one should read much out of it. This is not Nobel Prize in Economics or near it. However, we should give him due respect for his accomplishments. He is great, but not to the extent publicised to the world.

        • Amin on March 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

          Are we talking about the same delusional guy who proclaimed himself the president for life? Why is our memory so short-lived? In any other country he would have been institutionalised. In this country we built a pedestal for him.

      • Robin on March 7, 2011 at 10:30 pm

        To the outside world, Yunus is bigger than Bangladesh.

        I can appreciate your strong feelings. However, facts take a front seat over feelings. I am no party people. My place (US and Silicon Valley, California) knows Professor Yunus more than Bangladesh. You probably know the importance of the United States.

        From my four decades of experience I can make a statement unequivocally; if Yunus is pulled down, Bangladesh is doomed.

        • Amin on March 27, 2011 at 1:03 am

          Some of our so-called intellectuals are speaking against the US meddling of Bangladesh affairs. If the US stops taking interest in Bangladesh, completely, a few of the consequences would be:

          Bangladesh loses preferential treatment in exporting RMG to the US.

          Support for Millennium Development Goal postponed again.

          US withdraws support for Bangladesh’s maritime claims in the Bay of Bengal

          Bangladesh actually loses if the US stops “meddling”. Are we ready for that?

      • Zahir shamsery on March 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm

        This is sad and shocking when someone tries to compare our liberation, freedom (territorial) with others. Have you sacrificed your father, uncle, sister, and mother for the cause of freedom? Have you seen the tears on the face of a widow that is yet to dry?
        I have seen and witnessed it every day when I look at my mother.
        So please show some respect towards the martyrs of War of Liberation. No one is at par with them as regards their sacrifice for the country.

        Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has a lot of contribution to our freedom movement followed by his failures in liberated Bangladesh.
        Dr Yunus has immanence contribution and he definitely made us proud. If he has failures, he must pay for those.

        Why is US so curious about his case?

        The way America is expressing their concern for Dr Yunus is very suspicious.

        Why this unholy alliance with world’s biggest warmonger?

      • Zakirul Haque on March 8, 2011 at 6:56 am

        For the last two months Mr. Nayeem Khan’s obsession to portray Dr. Yunus from a negative angle has reduced his credibility greartly, at least to me. His newspaper, with great enthusiasm, has published foreign reports with Yunus’ criticism which includes a ‘report’ on Dr.Manmahan’s comment. But we do not see such enthusiasm on the current international reports critical of the present govt. regarding Yunus ouster from GB.

        I hope this immature move by the govt. will not reduce its strength to try the war criminals.

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