Indictment order in Dr Yunus’ money laundering case 12 June

Dr Muhammad Yunus on the court premises on 2 June 2024Prothom Alo

A Dhaka court has fixed 12 June for the charge framing order in a money laundering case filed against Nobel Laureate economist Dr Muhammad Yunus and 13 others.

Judge Syed Arafat Hossain of Special Judges Court in Dhaka Sunday fixed the date after completion of hearing in the case, confirmed Dr Yunus’ lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun to Prothom Alo.

During today’s hearing Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajal put forth his side’s arguments to frame charges against Dr Yunus and others. Later, Muhammad Yunus’ lawyer appealed for releasing the Nobel Laureate from the case presenting the law points.

ACC on 1 February this year submitted a charge sheet against 14 people including Dr Muhammad Yunus in a case filed on charges of the embezzlement of Tk 252.2 million from the profits of Grameen Telecom employees.

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.

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.

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 that 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 (UCB) to the Gulshan branch of Dhaka Bank on 10 May 2022. The dividends were embezzled without disbursing to the employees.

However, the lawyer of Dr Yunus, Abdullah Al Mamun told Prothom Alo 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.

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.

Meanwhile, the labour court in Dhaka on 1 January this year sentenced Dr Yunus and three others to six months imprisonment each in a case filed by the DIFE.

The verdict was challenged in an appeal with labour appeal tribunal on 28 January which the tribunal accepted for hearing.