Court takes into cognizance chargesheet in money laundering case against Dr Yunus

Dr Muhammad YunusFile Photo

The court has taken into cognizance the chargesheet placed against 14 persons including the Nobel prize winning economist Dr Muhammad Yunus in the case filed under the Money Laundering Prevention Act.

Dhaka metropolitan senior special judge Mohammad As-Shams Jaglul Hossain took this chargesheet into cognizance today, Tuesday.

Dr Yunus' lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun confirmed the matter to Prothom Alo.

Lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun said that the case has been shifted to special judge court-4 for trial. The court has fixed 2 May as the date for the hearing to form the charges.

Earlier, Dr Yunus appeared in court at 12:50pm today, Tuesday.

Dr Yunus was granted bail in this case on 3 March by the court.

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On 1 February, the Anti-Corruption Commission submitted in court the chargesheet against 14 persons including Dr Yunus, accusing them of misappropriating Tk 252.2 million (Tk 25 crore 22 lakh) of the Grameen Telecom employees' dividends.

Other than Dr Yunus, the names of Grameen Telecom managing director Md Nazmul Islam, its director and former managing director Md Ashraful Hasan, directors Parveen Mahmud, Nazneen Sultana, Md Shahjahan, Nur Jahan Begum and SM Hajjatul Islam Latifi, lawyers Yusuf Ali and Zafrul Hasan Sharif, Grameen Telecom workers employees union president Md Kamruzzaman, general secretary Firoz Mahmud Hasan, workers employees union representative Md Mainul Islam and Jatiya Sramik Federation's office secretary Md Kamrul Hasan were included after investigations. The remaining persons' names were in the FIR.

Deputy director of ACC, Gulshan Anwar, filed the case on 30 May last year as the main plaintiff. The investigation report stated that the accused had misappropriated Tk 252.2 million (Tk 25 crore 22 lakh). The funds had been transferred illegally which was an offence in the Money Laundering Prevention Act.

ACC said that on 9 May 2022, in presence of the members of the Grameen Telecom board including Grameen Telecom chairman Dr Yunus and managing director Nazmul Islam, the decision was taken to open a bank account. Accordingly, on 8 May a bank account was opened with the Gulshan branch of Dhaka Bank.

Dr Yunus' lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun says that, when the employees went to court asking for their share of the dividends, they reached an understanding with Grameen Telecom

According to ACC, on 27 April of the same year an agreement was signed between the workers union and Grameen Telecom to distribute the Grameen Telecom employees' share of the dividends. The agreement mentions that the bank account was opened on 8 May which was not possible. Papers were forged for the purpose.

ACC says that according to the agreement and the decision taken at the 108th board meeting (Grameen Telecom), on 10 May 2022, funds of around Tk 4.37 billion (Tk 437 crore 1 lakh 12 thousand 621) were transferred from Grameen Telecom's account with the Mirpur branch of United Commercial Bank to the Gulshan branch of Dhaka Bank. The employees' dividends were misappropriated without distributing it among them or informing them.

Dr Yunus' lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun says that, when the employees went to court asking for their share of the dividends, they reached an understanding with Grameen Telecom. Based on that agreement, the employees wanted that Tk 250 million (Tk 25 crore) in advance for the lawyers' expenses. There is the employees' written acquiescence in this regard.

Abdullah Al Mamun went on to say that as the employees delayed in opening a bank account, that space in the agreement remained blank. Later both parties consensually filled in the bank account numbers there.

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A total of 176 employees of Grameen Telecom had filed the case, asking for their share of the dividends. They went up till the High Court too. Later they came to an agreement with Grameen Telecom. Dr Yunus lawyer said that after receiving the dues on the basis of the agreement, the Grameen Telecom employees withdrew the cases in May 2022. Later ACC filed a case, making the payment of dues into fund misappropriation.

Dr Yunus lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun said, the Department for Inspection for Factories and Establishments, upon directives from the government, sent a letter to ACC. They cannot do this actually. And when Dr Yunus spoke out about this, they ACC hurriedly brought about a chargesheet against him.

In a case filed by the Department for Inspection for Factories and Establishments on allegations of violating the labour law, the labour court on 1 January sentenced four persons including Dr Yunus to six months' imprisonment. The four including Dr Yunus challenged the ruling and their appeal was taken up on for hearing on 28 January by the labour appeal tribunal. They are now on bail.

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