Dhaka: Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi pioneer of “microfinance” loans to help the poor, will on Wednesday lodge a Supreme Court appeal against an order sacking him from his own bank, his lawyer told the news agency.
The Nobel laureate will also ask the court to immediately suspend the central bank’s order removing him from Grameen Bank, which he founded in 1983 and which provides collateral-free loans to eight million rural borrowers.
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Yunus, 70, who is celebrated worldwide for tackling poverty through microfinance cash loans, has fallen out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and his supporters say he has been targeted in a bitter smear campaign.
He was fired as Grameen Bank managing director last week by order of the central bank, and on Tuesday lost a high court appeal against his dismissal.
Backed by a high-profile international lobby group, he defied the order by returning to work at Grameen Bank’s headquarters and launching his legal battle.
“We will appeal against the high court verdict on Wednesday. We want a stay on the verdict and will request the case be heard at the Supreme Court,” Tanim Hussain Shawon, one of Yunus’s lawyers, told the news agency.
The central bank -- which is nominally independent from the government -- removed Yunus on the basis that he had been in his position illegally since failing to seek its approval when he was reappointed indefinitely in 1999.
High court judge Muhammad Mamtaj Uddin Ahmed said in his ruling on Tuesday it was “crystal clear” the central bank’s order was legal and added that Yunus had also exceeded Grameen Bank’s mandatory retirement age of 60.
Analysts say Yunus’s troubles stem from 2007, when he floated the idea of forming a political party, earning the wrath of Prime Minister Hasina, who has publicly disparaged his work.
Grameen’s huge influence in Bangladesh and its move into solar panels, mobile phones and other consumer goods also appear to have triggered the government’s animosity.
“They want to put their own person at the chair of the bank, a political person,” Yunus told a Washington microfinance conference via video link late on Monday.
Friends of Grameen, a lobby group chaired by former Irish president Mary Robinson, described the high court verdict as “politically oriented and without legal grounds”.