Lawsuits filed against Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus

17 Mar 2017 | By Ramya Patelkhana

The staff at Bangladesh's Grameen Telecom (GTC), established by microfinance pioneer and the country's only Nobel laureate, Muhammad Yunus, sued him over alleged unpaid dues.

GTC reportedly had a legal obligation to share the profits with its employees; the company holds nearly one-third stake in Bangladesh's largest mobile operator.

Ten former and current employees filed cases naming GTC and its chairman Yunus.

In context: Mohammad Yunus - Bangladesh's only Nobel laureate

AboutAbout Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, economist, banker and civil society leader.

He founded Grameen Bank in 1976 and pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance; he and the bank were jointly awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

One of the most effective and innovative campaigners against poverty, Grameen Bank, provides collateral-free micro-loans to the rural poor and local entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

2011Muhammad Yunus forced off Grameen Bank's board in 2011

In a move allegedly orchestrated by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Muhammad Yunus was forced off Grameen Bank's board in 2011.

She also accused him of "sucking blood" from the poor.

He had been at odds with her since 2007, the year when he made "a brief foray" into Bangladesh's highly polarized politics.

He challenged his removal in the country's highest court but lost.

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Painted as un-Islamic in 2013

In 2013, reports emerged that the "hounding" of the micro-finance pioneer had "turned more personal and dangerous." He was the subject of a hate campaign backed by the state that painted him as "un-Islamic" and a spreader of homosexuality.

2016Yunus's family and bank investigated for tax irregularities

In Dec'16, authorities launched a fresh investigation into the financial matters of Yunus, his family, and Grameen Bank for tax irregularities in a case some believed was politically motivated.

The Central Investigation Cell of the National Bureau of Revenue sent notices to banks in Bangladesh for the required financial information.

The Nobel laureate was also asked for documentation to "verify" his income and expenditure.

17 Mar 2017Lawsuits filed against Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus

LawsuitsStaff's claim is not valid, says GTC MD Ashraful Hassan

Grameen Telecom staff's lawyer Jafrul Hasan Sharif said the company reported profits of $260 million in the last decade but didn't give the employees their share.

GTC's Managing Director Ashraful Hassan has also been named in the lawsuits.

Hassan said the company would fight the case and that all the profits were "plowed back" into GTC.

He added, "Their (staff) claim is not valid."

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Lawyer Jafrul Hasan Sharif's statement

"Under labour laws, Grameen Telecom must share five percent of its net profits with its employees and the government. Its total due from 2006-2015 is 1.08 billion Taka ($13.4 million) of which 80% should be paid equally to the company's former and current employees."