PM’s allegations, Yunus Centre’s clarifications

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The Yunus Centre has released a statement refuting allegations brought against Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus recently.

They issued a detailed statement where they wrote about the allegations and their responses. Below is a condensed version of the statement. For further details, please visit the Yunus Centre website.

On the allegation surrounding his tenure at Grameen Bank

Yunus Centre: "First thing to clarify is that Grameen Bank is such a bank that is owned (75%) by its borrowers…There was no age limit mentioned for this appointment in the law or in the decision of the board of directors. When Professor Yunus reached 60 years, he voluntarily reported to the board that they may consider appointing a new Managing Director. The Board wanted him to continue until it decides otherwise. Board reappointed Professor Yunus when his current term was over. He was 61 years and 6 months old at that time. Grameen Bank explained the matter to Bangladesh Bank (BB) in one of its regular inspection reports. As a result, no further observation was made in the next report of BB.

Speaking of GO, he never had to take GO for traveling abroad because he was not a government employee. The government never raised any objection in this regard…It is to be noted that Professor Yunus exceeded 60 years of age during the first tenure of Awami League Government in 2001. But the government never raised the issue of Professor Yunus' age at that time. Bangladesh Bank also never raised the issue at any later time…Professor Muhammad Yunus decided to resign from the position of managing director of Grameen Bank on May 12, 2011."

On the allegation of Dr Yunus' case against Bangladesh Bank and international pressure

Yunus Centre: "…The global shock created by removal of Professor Yunus from the position of Managing Director of Grameen Bank is an independent story unfolding at the same time when the World Bank was warning to stop Padma Bridge funding because of corruption.

Mixing these two independent stories into one story took it to a different path…Professor Yunus made a clear statement when it was mentioned for the first time that Professor Yunus put pressure on the World Bank to stop the Padma Bridge funding. He emphatically said that Padma Bridge has been a long-time dream of all the people of Bangladesh, including himself.  There is no question of his opposing the realisation of this dream.

'The people of the country are overjoyed with the completion of the Padma Bridge today. I congratulate the Prime Minister and all the people of the country for this historic achievement,' said Professor Yunus.

This story propagates that Professor Yunus used his 'enormous influence' to stop the financing for Padma Bridge because he was holding a grudge against the Prime Minister, that maybe Professor Yunus did not pressurize the World Bank directly, but he did so through his friend Hillary Clinton. In other words, he must have some sort of connection with World Bank's cancellation of the agreement. PM also mentions that one editor of a famous newspaper went all the way to meet the President of the World Bank to persuade him to stop the financing. The tough world of international decision-making does not depend on the whims of two friends or the visit of a newspaper editor. However 'important' a person Professor Yunus may be, whatever number of 'influential friends' he may have, a three-billion dollar project cannot be stopped just because he allegedly wants it cancelled.

In response to the allegations, it has to be said again that Professor Yunus has never made any complaint to the World Bank or any other organization or individual about the Padma Bridge. So the matter is purely imaginary."

On the allegation of taking 47% interest from the poor

Yunus Centre: "This comment is not correct at all. Grameen Bank's interest on business loans has always been 20 percent, which is a declining simple interest. This rate was never increased on any occasion…Grameen charges 8 percent interest on house loans, 0 percent interest on education loans for borrowers' children during their studies and 5 percent after completion of studies, and 0 percent interest on loans to the destitute. Interest rate was never 47 percent in Grameen Bank and not even today.

Besides, profit on the interest income of any bank is shared with its owners. Ownership of Grameen Bank rests 25 percent with government and 75 percent with the bank's poor members. That is why both government and members receive their respective profits on a regular basis. Professor Yunus does not own a single share with the bank. So, he had no opportunity to deceive anybody by charging 47 percent interest."

On allegation that Dr Yunus has "eaten" all the money from Grameen Bank

Yunus Centre: "Professor Yunus has not 'eaten' Grameen Bank's money. Beyond his salary package as MD of Grameen Bank, he has not received any money from Grameen Bank. He never took any money for international travel in all his years with the Bank. The claim that he took money to invest at home and abroad is a completely false…Bangladesh Bank regularly audits all accounts and financial matters of Grameen Bank. It has never reported that Professor Yunus has taken any money from the bank.

There are three sources of Professor Yunus' income: 1) Speaking fees from the lectures he gives at various conferences around the world. He is one of the highly prized speakers in the global speaking circuit. This source of his income accounts for a bulk of his income. 2) Royalties from his books published in over 25 languages. Some of his books have been included in the New York Times bestsellers list. 3) Income from fixed deposits generated from items 1 and 2.

He remits all his earnings from lectures and books back to Bangladesh through formal banking channels…He has never invested in stocks and shares. He does not own any share in any company anywhere in the world."

On the allegation of donating $300,000 to the Clinton Foundation and questions over whose money that was

Yunus Centre: "Professor Yunus has not made any donation of any size at any time to Clinton Foundation. Honorable PM is wrongly informed."

Allegations surround taking over Grameenphone and not paying a single taka to Grameen Bank from the dividends

Yunus Centre: "There was no such commitment on behalf of Grameenphone to pay dividends to Grameen Bank. Grameen Bank was not a party in this joint venture…Grameen Bank and Grameen Telecom are two separate legal entities. Grameenphone is a publicly listed company…Professor Yunus never intended to, nor actually owned, any share of Grameenphone at any stage of the company, nor does he own any share now."


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