The Supreme Court of Bangladesh yesterday rejected a final appeal by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus against his dismissal as managing director of Grameen Bank, the micro-lender he founded.
A government probe last month cleared Grameen of financial irregularities, but the finding did not change the decision to fire him.
Yunus, 70, was dismissed on the grounds that he had overstayed his position and refused requests to quit. The official retirement age for managing directors of commercial banks in Bangladesh is 60.
Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, set up Grameen, which means “village” in Bengali, and had been the bank’s managing director since 2000.
Praised at home and abroad by politicians and financiers as the “banker to the poor,” he had been under attack by the government since late last year after a Norwegian documentary alleged the bank was dodging taxes.
Yunus denied any wrongdoing and a Norwegian government investigation later also cleared him of malpractice.
Associates say his removal from his post was government retaliation after he briefly considered a political career to challenge Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After a short hearing, which Yunus did not attend, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters the Supreme Court had dismissed Yunus’ final petition.
The Supreme Court also dismissed a similar appeal lodged by members of the bank’s board.
The action against Yunus coincides with growing criticism of micro-lending in developing countries, including India, with officials accusing bankers of exploiting the poor.