Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, founder and director of Grameen Bank, speaks during a ceremony at the foreign affairs ministry in Lima September 27, 2010. - Photo by Reuters

DHAKA: Bangladesh's Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been fired from the pioneering microfinance bank he founded, a Grameen Bank official told AFP Wednesday, following months of political pressure.

“The (central) Bangladesh Bank has relieved Yunus of his duties as the managing director of Grameen Bank with immediate effect,” Muzammel Huq, Grameen Bank chairman, told AFP.

According to Huq, Yunus was removed because he violated a clause in the Grameen Bank ordinance – the law which established the bank in 1983 – concerning the appointment of the managing director, Yunus's position.

“Yunus was appointed as the managing director of Grameen Bank in 2000 without the prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank,” said Huq, who is government appointed and is openly hostile to Yunus.

“The Grameen Bank bylaw 14.1 clearly states that 'there shall be a managing director who shall be appointed by the board with the prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank,'” he said.

“Yunus was appointed to the position of managing director indefinitely in 2000 without prior approval from the Bangladesh Bank and that is why he has been removed,” he said.

Grameen Bank's deputy managing director Nurjhan Begum said the bank would issue a formal statement on Yunus's dismissal shortly.

Yunus has been under intense pressure from the government to quit his post.

In early February, Finance Minister A.M.A Muhith asked the Nobel winner to go and the Bangladesh Bank wrote to him Monday saying his tenure was illegal.

Following the release of a Norwegian documentary in December which accused Yunus and Grameen of malpractice, Yunus has been vilified in the Bangladeshi press and has seen his bank become the target of a government investigation.

Supporters of the 70-year-old Yunus, including former Irish president Mary Robinson, say there is a campaign of politically orchestrated attacks on the Nobel laureate after he fell out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2007.

The two clashed when Yunus briefly proposed setting up a political party.

In December, Hasina accused the Nobel laureate of treating Grameen Bank as his “personal property” and claimed the group was “sucking blood from the poor”.

Yunus has been summoned to appear in three separate court cases in Bangladesh over the last month, all nominally connected to Grameen.



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