Anonymity of Dr Yunus in the legal domain of Bangladesh

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Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Nobel, Yunus
Image: Indian Defence Review

In a bold and unprecedented move, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has openly challenged Dr Muhammad Yunus to a public debate, putting the Nobel laureate in an unnervingly spotlight. Despite his global acclaim, Dr Yunus has remained conspicuously silent, raising questions about his willingness to confront the allegations and controversies that have marred his reputation in his homeland.

Frankly speaking, Yunus hides behind a fascia of numerous pretenses to mask his timidity in legal battles. While his global fame is considerable, his image in his native land is far from positive. A pertinent observation can be made: none of Dr Yunus’ so-called beneficiaries of microcredit have come forward to defend him. No one has publicly shed even crocodile tears for him, nor has anyone declared him a great individual or their savior.

The harsh reality is that Yunus has never stood by the people during natural disasters, social movements, or anti-independence political upheavals in Bangladesh. This is why the masses, including the younger generation, have not embraced him. Essentially, his opportunistic character has barred him from winning the hearts and minds of the people, preventing them from seeing him as benevolent.

Despite this, he is quick to exploit the legal courts by shifting the responsibility for his own actions and misdeeds onto the government. However, law and justice are the same for everyone in every country, and the same is true in Bangladesh. The same applies to Muhammad Yunus.

Many believe that if he has not committed a crime, he has nothing to fear from the court. Yet, he has attempted to influence the legal system of Bangladesh by garnering endorsements from renowned individuals worldwide, thereby degrading it. From all his actions, it is evident that he is dexterously playing a game, utilizing his branding and marketing offices with the goal of obtaining a ‘Good Boy Yunus’ certificate from international dignitaries. On January 29, about 242 international figures, including more than 125 Nobel laureates, requested in a third open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to spare Muhammad Yunus from legal proceedings.

The crucial point is that the court of law is not bound by the protocol of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. The courts in this country are completely independent. Yet, Yunus has not followed the prevailing rules of Bangladesh. Although he is known globally as a noble person, he does not trust the legal system of his own country. Surprisingly, he is not even interested in paying taxes according to the current rules of the country. There are even more enigmatic bids.

He also embezzled statutory profits of the officers and employees of his company. Consequently, those individuals from Grameen Telecom, the company managed by Yunus, filed a case against him – accusing of fraud. The complaint stated that he did not pay them their legitimate profit share. Yunus has even resorted to fraud by not paying taxes to the government. As a result, Professor Yunus and three other top management officers of Grameen Telecom were found guilty of violating labor laws. The Labor Court of Dhaka sentenced each of them to six months of unpaid work.

Foci of the case

Professor Muhammad Yunus, who lost a long legal battle, has been compelled to pay BDT 12.28 million in tax to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) of Bangladesh. It should be noted that he even attempted to avoid paying the tax by disobeying the ruling of the lower court. An appeal was filed in the High Court, and in July 2023, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court delivered the final verdict. Such a reprehensible act by a renowned man like him clearly demonstrates his immoral character and lack of faith in the country.

Factories and Institutions Department lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan rejected the letter written by 12 US Senators to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He stated, “Senators should read the judgment of the Bangladesh Labor Court, analyze the judgment, and then make a statement. Commenting without knowing or understanding the overall structure of the executive and judicial system of Bangladesh in the management of the state and the courts of law is a direct interference in the judicial system of Bangladesh”.

This high-profile case against Nobel laureate Yunus underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in financial affairs in Bangladesh. Despite the partisan pressure in favor of Yunus from global personalities, the verdict in this case strongly establishes the principle that no citizen in Bangladesh can escape the law based on their dignity or fame.

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