Yunus Centre responds to allegations by Grameen Bank 

Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus addresses a press conference at Grameen Telecom Bhaban in Mirpur, Dhaka on 15 February 2024.Tanvir Ahammed

The Yunus Centre protested the allegations made by Grameen Bank authorities, accusing Muhammad Yunus of money laundering during his tenure at the bank, labeling them as false, baseless, and defamatory. 

The protest from the Yunus Centre was conveyed through a notice sent to the media on Sunday. 

During a press conference held on Saturday, AKM Saiful Majid, Chairman of Grameen Bank, leveled various charges against Yunus, including money laundering. He alleged that while spearheading the establishment of institutions like Grameen Telecom, Grameen Kalyan, and Grameen Fund, Yunus illegally diverted hundreds of millions from Grameen Bank. 

The Yunus Centre responded to these allegations by highlighting that the country's esteemed audit institutions have conducted annual audits of Grameen Bank. They emphasised that neither these audit bodies nor the inspection team of Bangladesh Bank, nor the government-formed committee, found any evidence of financial irregularities. Additionally, during Dr Yunus's tenure, the Grameen Bank Board was comprised of respected and knowledgeable individuals from society.  

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In response to the current chairman's statement that Dr Yunus does not own Grameen Bank or any other related institutions, the Yunus Centre reiterated Dr Yunus's consistent declarations across various media platforms that he holds no shares or ownership in any institution he has founded, including Grameen Bank. Furthermore, they pointed out that the companies established by Dr Yunus, except Grameen Bank, are incorporated under Section 28 of the Company Act, 1994, which does not entail any form of ownership. 

The Yunus Centre responded to the Chairman of Grameen Bank's statement by clarifying that Dr. Yunus has been serving as the chairman of both Grameen Telecom and Grameen Kalyan since their inception. Initially, Grameen Bank possessed the authority to nominate the chairman and board members for both institutions, as specified in their articles of association.  

However, amendments were made to Article 48 and Article 32 of the Articles of Association of Grameen Kalyan, in accordance with Section 20 of the Company Act, enabling the management of the two companies. These amendments were submitted to the Ministry of Commerce on 25 May, 2011. 

Similarly, amendments were made to Article 51 and Article 35 of the Articles of Association of Grameen Telecom, relinquishing Grameen Bank's power to appoint the chairman and directors in these two institutions.  

Therefore, as per the current structure, Grameen Bank no longer has the authority to appoint the chairman and directors of Grameen Telecom and Grameen Kalyan. 

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The Yunus Centre responded to Grameen Bank's assertion regarding Dr. Yunus receiving a grant of Tk 240 million from Grameen Bank for establishing Grameen Telecom by providing detailed clarification. They stated that Grameen Telecom received financial assistance of Tk 1.9 million from Norway during its establishment phase. Additionally, a loan agreement of Tk 300 million was secured from Grameen Bank's Social Advancement Fund, with a loan of Tk 247.7 million disbursed between 1995 and 1997 under this agreement. 

Furthermore, in 1997, the loan agreement was transferred to Grameen Kalyan based on the decision of the Grameen Bank board. As the loan agreement was shifted to Grameen Kalyan, any payment obligations were no longer applicable to Grameen Bank. 

In addition, the Yunus Centre clarified that Tk 3.47 billion was recorded from Grameen Bank in Grameen Kalyan's own books of accounts to facilitate adjustments in accounting. This adjustment was made to accommodate the allocation of 2 per cent of the funds received from donor organisations to Grameen Kalyan for the establishment of the Social Advancement Fund and the implementation of various programmes through it. 

Despite this entry, no actual financial transaction occurred. This fact is accurately reflected in the books of accounts of both Grameen Kalyan and Grameen Bank. 

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The Yunus Centre responded to Chairman Saiful Majid's complaint at the press conference, stating that no auditing organisation has ever reported that Grameen Bank's papers and documents from 1990 to 1999 were missing. Both the inspection team of Bangladesh Bank and the government-formed committee did not make any observations regarding missing documents during their inspections. Additionally, the Grameen Bank Commission was established after Dr Muhammad Yunus left Grameen Bank, and this committee did not raise any complaints regarding missing financial records.  

Furthermore, the Yunus Centre's notice emphasised that no telecom building or any other establishment or institution was constructed using funds from Grameen Bank.  

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