Bangladesh orders legal action against Yunus

AP News
Posted: Sep 10, 2013 10:14 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The Bangladesh government has ordered legal action against the country's Nobel laureate Muhamamd Yunus, accusing him of evading taxes on overseas income, including from book royalties, speeches at conferences and numerous awards.

Yunus issued a statement late Monday denying the allegations.

Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters that the decision came after a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, discussed a report submitted by the National Board of Revenue on alleged tax irregularities by Yunus. He did not say what legal action would be taken.

Yunus was ousted in 2011 as managing director of pioneering small-loan provider Grameen Bank after the High Court ruled the 73-year-old violated retirement laws by serving beyond the age of 60. He won the Nobel peace prize in 2006.

Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith on Monday alleged that Yunus received tax exemptions for being a government servant, as the chief executive of a statutory body between 2004 and 2011, but did not have the proper permission to do so from authorities.

He alleged that eight companies owned by Yunus, and not by Grameen Bank, had obtained tax benefits in the name of the bank.

In his statement, Yunus said he did not breach any laws as chief executive of Grameen Bank and that all of his activities were approved by the bank's board.

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"Grameen Bank was created by a special law. The board of directors holds absolute power under the law. Whatever Prof. Yunus did he did with the permission and consent of this powerful board," the statement said.

Supporters of Yunus, who won the Nobel along with Grameen Bank for pioneering microcredit as a means of lifting millions out of poverty, say the charges are politically motivated because of differences he has with the prime minister, who came to power in a landslide victory in 2008.