Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize-winning founding father of microfinance, has been pushed out of the Grameen Bank. The board of the bank held an inconclusive meeting on Monday to determine whether he would stay. Apparently, efforts to work out a face-saving exit have failed. The official reason given by the Bangladeshi government, which owns a stake in Grameen, is bureaucratic, according to AP:
Bangladesh’s central bank ordered his removal after accusations he violated the country’s retirement laws, A.F.M. Asaduzzaman, an official at Bangladesh Bank told The Associated Press. Grameen Bank has been notified by letter, Asaduzzman said. He provided no further details.
The whisper (and sometimes shouting) campaign against him has been much nastier. There were claims that Grameen had engaged in improper bank transfers and, at one point, a defamation case filed against him. None of those claims have ever amounted to anything, and the bank-transfer controversy was resolved years ago. To really understand Yunus’ ouster, look to Bangladesh’s intensely personal political rivalries. In 2007, he launched an ill-fated effort to challenge the existing order of two parties ruled by two begums, with the military in between. With a civilian government bank in power, Yunus is paying the price.