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Grameen Telecom responds to foreign ministry’s statements against Dr Yunus

Grameen Telecom has issued a rejoinder to the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1 September in response to the open letter sent by more than 170 world leaders regarding the “judicial harassment” against its Chairman Dr Muhammad Yunus.

“Considering the situation, it appears that the allegations of corruption against the chairman and other board members of Grameen Telecom are without any substantial evidence and as a result are false, and are framed to malign the good names of these persons,” reads the rejoinder issued on Sunday.

“By filing false cases against them [Yunus and others], there seems to be a deliberate effort to harass Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and other board members of Grameen Telecom and tarnish their images by trying to hamper the social development works they have been pursuing all of their lives,” the rejoinder states.

On 28 August, more than 170 global leaders, including more than 100 Nobel laureates, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demanding an immediate halt to the legal action against Professor Muhammad Yunus.

“We are alarmed that he has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment,” they said in the open letter.

In response to that letter, the foreign ministry on 1 September issued a press release raising various allegations against Grameen Telecom and its Chairman Professor Muhammad Yunus.

“We think that the real truth and actual information in regard to the matter should be brought forward to the people of the country as well as the world community,” said the Grameen Telecom rejoinder, signed by its Managing Director Md Nazmul Islam.

“There were false claims that Professor Yunus wanted to hold the position of managing director of Grameen Bank. In fact, he was never eager to hold the position. On several occasions, he informed the board that he wanted to leave the position, but he was requested by the board of directors of Grameen Bank not to leave the bank,” the rejoinder said.

In the rejoinder, the company also cleared its position by citing the legal explanation against the complaints regarding Grameen Telecom and the Workers’ Profit Participatory Fund (WPPF). At the same time, the position of Dr Yunus in Grameen Telecom was also highlighted.

It said, “In 1990, the government share in Grameen Bank was reduced from 60% to 25% and the borrowers’ share was increased from 40% to 75%. As per the amended ordinance, the power of appointing the managing director of the bank was entrusted to the board upon prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank. The board of directors was given the power to formulate all the policies of the bank. The government retained no power in the bank except nominating three directors, including the chairman, on the GB board, which was comprised of 13 directors in total. No obligation to follow the government service rule was mandatory for GB. Like other private banks, the power of appointing the managing director of the bank rested with the board of the bank subject to the approval of the Bangladesh Bank. Neither the appointment of the managing director nor the power of determining the terms of reference for the position was under the purview of the ministry.”

However, by raising the question of his age, the Bangladesh Bank ordered Professor Yunus to resign from the position of managing director in 2011. In response, Professor Yunus submitted a writ petition to the High Court. Upon hearing the case, the High Court rejected his petition on the ground that the petition was not maintainable, i.e. in legal terms, he had no “locus standi” to submit the petition. He then appealed to the Hon’ble Appellate Division and the Appellate Division also declined his petition on the same ground. Professor Yunus, obeying the decision of the court, immediately resigned from the post of managing director of Grameen Bank, the rejoinder added. TBS News

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