Muslim banker under renewed scrutiny

August 12, 2012

Eyes on Yunus

The mainstream media and the Internet search engines have generally circled the wagons to suppress negative news coverage of Muhammad Yunus, a prominent Muslim banker.  Search for his name and you’ll find only glowing, positive biographies and tributes to the man.  But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an increasingly checkered record of financial and legal misdeeds despite the accolades for him from U.S. politicians, journalists, and academics.

Money Jihad remains watchful.  From the Business Recorder earlier this month:

Bangladesh orders new probe into Yunus

August 03, 2012

Bangladesh’s cabinet Thursday ordered a new probe into Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus which will check for irregularities during his time as head of microfinance pioneer Grameen Bank, an official said. The 72-year-old “banker to the poor” was forced from the institution last year, due to what his supporters say is a government vendetta against him.

A separate review of the bank has been underway since May this year. Yunus, who fell out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after talking about going into politics, was officially fired for exceeding the mandatory retirement age of 60. He challenged the move in the Supreme Court, but lost.

“The investigation will cover the period of beyond that mandatory retirement age and see whether the facilities he enjoyed during that period were lawful,” the government”s cabinet secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said. It will investigate in particular “if he enjoyed any tax exemption when he brought foreign currency home during his tenure as the managing director”, he said.

The findings of the investigation by the Bank and Financial Institution Department and the National Board of Revenue are to be handed to the cabinet within the shortest possible time, he added. Yunus, who won his 2006 Nobel Prize for pioneering the microfinance system in which small loans are made to poor entrepreneurs, is seen as one of the world”s leading anti-poverty activists and has many powerful foreign supporters.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a personal friend, heaped praise on Yunus during a visit to Dhaka in May and urged Hasina’s government to maintain “an environment where civil society groups operate freely”. The same month Yunus expressed fears that the bank he founded to put his concept of microfinance into practice would be taken over by the Bangladesh government.

Don’t forget that Yunus was the subject of an investigation by the government of Norway in 2010 for misappropriating Norwegian donations made to his bank.  Last year, Yunus was released on bail over slander charges from officials in Bangladesh, who have also investigated Yunus for tax evasion.


  1. It also supported the central bank’s argument that Prof Yunus had violated the country’s retirement laws by staying on as Grameen’s head long past the mandatory retirement age of 60. Prof Yunus is 70.

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