Dhaka: Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus launched a legal battle on Thursday against his removal from the post of managing director of the pioneering microlender Grameen Bank, which he founded, lawyers said.
The filing came a day after the central bank ordered him out of his post at the bank on the grounds that he had overstayed as head of operations in violation of the law.
“Yunus filed a writ petition to the high court challenging his removal,” one lawyer said.
Lawyers said they expected the court to open the hearing later on Thursday.
Yunus, 70, set up Grameen Bank and has been its managing director since 2000. Lauded abroad by politicians and financiers, he has been under attack from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government since late last year, after a Norwegian documentary alleged Grameen Bank was dodging taxes.
Yunus has denied any financial irregularities and his supporters say he is being discredited by the government because of a feud with Hasina dating back to 2007, when he tried to set up a political party while Bangladesh was ruled by an interim military government.
The US Embassy in Bangladesh said it was “deeply troubled” by the central bank’s Wednesday order, adding it was following developments and awaiting clarification from the government.
“We hope that a mutually satisfactory compromise can be achieved that will ensure Grameen Bank’s autonomy and effectiveness,” the embassy said.
Civil society organisations such as the bank were important for development and democracy, it said.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton looked forward to meeting Yunus on 8 March in Washington to discuss the issue and other matters, it said.
On Tuesday, a central bank official said a letter had been sent to the finance ministry demanding Yunus retire immediately because he had been in his post at Grameen for nearly a decade longer than the law allowed.
The official retirement age of managing directors at commercial banks is 60.
Yunus has said the bank’s board, which is mainly made up of borrowers, allows him to stay on as long as he is able to perform his duties.
Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 because of his work in helping the poor with loans.