Dr Yunus gets bail in money laundering case

Dr Muhammad YunusFile Photo

A  Dhaka court has granted bail to Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus in the case filed under the Money Laundering Prevention Act. The court has set 2 June for the indictment hearing. The Special Judge Court -4 in Dhaka passed the order Thursday.

Abdullah Al Mamun, lawyer of Dr Muhammad Yunus, confirmed the development to Prothom Alo.

He said, “Today was the day for the indictment hearing. However, we appealed seeking more time and the court granted that. Dr Muhammad Yunus and others were present in the court. The court also granted Dr Yunus bail.”

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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) submitted the charge sheet against Dr Yunus and 14 others on the allegation of their embezzling Tk 252 million from the profits of the employees of Grameen Telecom.

Apart from Dr Yunus, managing director of Grameen Telecom Nazmul Islam; director and former managing director of the company Ashraful Hasan; directors Parveen Mahmud, Nazneen Sultana, Md Shahjahan, Nurjahan Begum and SM Hajjatul Islam Latifi; lawyer Md Yusuf Ali and Zafrul Hasan Sharif; president of Grameen Telecom Workers Union Kamruzzaman; general secretary Feroz Mahmud Hasan; the representative of the labour union Mainul Islam and secretary of the National Labour Federation Kamrul Hasan were made accused in the case.

Kamrul Hasan’s name was included in the charge sheet after investigation. Others were mentioned in the case statement.

Of them Dr Muhammad Yunus and Parvin Mahmud are on bail. The court has issued arrest warrants against 12 others.

ACC deputy director Gulshan Anwar lodged the case as the main plaintiff on 30 May 2023. According to the investigation report, the accused have embezzled Tk 252 million. The money was transacted illegally, which is considered a crime according to the Money Laundering Prevention Act.

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According to the ACC, the Grameen Telecom board, at a meeting on 9 May, 2022, decided to open a bank account to share profits with the employees. Its chairman Dr Yunus and managing director Nazmul Islam were present in the meeting. As per the decision, they opened the bank account in the Gulshan branch of Dhaka Bank on 8 May.

The ACC said an agreement was signed between the workers union and Grameen Telecom on 27 April of the year for disbursing dividends to the employees.

The agreement mentioned that the account was opened on 8 May, which is impossible in reality. It was done by forging documents.

The ACC said as per the agreement and the decision of the 108th board meeting of Grameen Telecom, an amount of Tk 4.37 billion was transferred from the Mirpur branch of United Commercial Bank to the Gulshan branch of Dhaka Bank on 10 May 2022. The dividends were embezzled without disbursing to the employees.

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However, the lawyer of Dr Yunus, Abdullah Al Mamun told Prothom Alo on Monday that Grameen Telecom reached a negotiation with the employees when they went to court to demand dividends.

As per the negotiation, the employees demanded an advance of Tk 250 million as the expenses of lawyers. The fund was for the purpose and employees provided written consent in this regard.

Abdullah Al Mamun also mentioned that the particular place of the contract was left blank as the employees were delaying in opening the bank account. Later, both parties filed bank account numbers. It was done through consents.

A total of 176 employees of Grameen Telecom filed more than 100 lawsuits seeking their dividends and took the issue to the High Court. Later, Grameen Telecom reached a negotiation with them.

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According to the lawyers of Dr Yunus, Grameen Telecom employees withdrew the lawsuits in May 2022 after being paid through the settlement. Later, the ACC filed a case describing the payment as embezzlement.

Abdullah Al Mamun also said the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), as per the government order, issued a letter to the ACC. But they cannot do that. As Dr Yunus raised voices in this regard, the ACC hurriedly submitted charge sheets against him. It was a humiliation to him.