Bangladesh’s Yunus cleared of fund transfer charge

DHAKA: No irregularities were found in Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus’ transfer of Norwegian development funds from his Grameen Bank to another venture, Bangladesh’s finance minister said Monday.Yunus’ idea of giving tiny loans to the poor without any collateral spurred a boom in such lending across the developing world, earning him and the bank the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.He had denied wrongdoing after a Norwegian television documentary accused him of transferring funds in 1996 without prior approval.On Monday, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith said a committee that formed in January to investigate had cleared him of wrongdoing in the transfer.Pressure from the Norwegian Embassy in Dhaka resulted in the funds being transferred back in 1998, and Norway has already said there was no indication Grameen was engaged in corruption or embezzlement.

The committee was assigned also to make recommendations to the government about any future decision to regulate the bank.“We have recommended provisions in a way so that the government can make proper decisions to regulate the bank in the future,” A.K. Monowar Uddin Ahmed, who heads the committee, told reporters after submitting the report.The central bank earlier this year ordered Yunus out of the microfinance bank he founded because of retirement law violations. He denied it and alleged the government was trying to take control of his bank.He lost a Supreme Court appeal in that case, but related cases are pending. The committee’s findings about the fund transfer are unlikely to impact his removal.The United States and some European nations want the government makes a respectable compromise with Yunus, but the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says the legal system will resolve the issue.The microlending bank has nearly 9 million borrowers in Bangladesh, 97 percent of whom are women. – Arabnews