Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been removed from his position as head of microlender Grameen Bank, Bangladesh's central bank said on Wednesday, following allegations of irregularities in its operations.
Yunus, 70, set up Grameen Bank and has been its managing director since 2000. Lauded abroad by politicians and financiers, he has been under attack from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government since late last year, after a Norwegian documentary alleged Grameen Bank was dodging taxes.
Yunus has denied any financial irregularities and his supporters say he is being discredited by the government because of a feud with Hasina dating back to 2007, when he tried to set up a political party while Bangladesh was ruled by an interim military government.
"We have delivered a letter to the Grameen Bank that Muhammad Yunus has been removed," said the central bank governor's spokesman, A.F.M. Asaduzzaman.
On Tuesday, a central bank official said a letter had been sent to the Finance Ministry demanding Yunus retire immediately because he had been in his post at Grameen for nearly a decade longer than the law allowed.
The official retirement age of managing directors at commercial banks is 60.
Yunus has said the bank's board, which is mainly made up of borrowers, allows him to stay on as long as he is able to perform his duties.
In a sign of a rift within the microlender, Grameen Bank said Yunus was staying on while a government-appointed chairman said the order had been implemented. It was unclear how the deadlock would be resolved.
"This is a legal issue. Grameen Bank is taking legal advice. It is also examining all the legal aspects of this issue," Grameen Bank said in a statement.
"Grameen Bank has been duly complying with all applicable laws. It has also complied with the law in respect of appointment of the managing director," the statement added.
"According to the Bank's legal advisors, the founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, is accordingly continuing in his office."
Separately, Grameen's government-appointed chairman Muzammel Huq told Reuters: "Today I received the letter from the central bank and I was directed to implement the decision."
"The decision has been implemented with immediate effect."
Last month, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said Yunus should step down, as he was now "old and we need to define the bank's role and bring it under close regulation".
Hasina herself has called Yunus a "blood-sucker of the poor" and sharply criticised Grameen Bank's microlending practices, especially after the Norwegian documentary that alleged the bank had for tax purposes shifted funds provided by Norway's aid agency in the 1990s from one legal entity to another.
The documentary sparked criticism in Bangladesh and abroad of Yunus, whose bank has provided about $10 billion in small loans to people, most of them women, to fund businesses and help them escape poverty.
A Norwegian government investigation into the allegations, however, found no evidence of misuse of funds or corrupt practices.
Yunus has been summoned to appear in three separate court cases involving Grameen Bank in Bangladesh over the past month.
Yunus, dubbed "banker to the poor", was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace for providing a small loans programme, which has led to the creation of similar programmes in other developing countries.
OPEC's influence is waning as it fails to cut production Thursday amid falling oil prices, while divisions between its member states deepen, experts say.
A controversy surfaced recently after the Public Account Committee (PAC) released a report accusing senior government officials of having fraudulently authorized payment of at least $122 million of public funds to a private company
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez left the meeting visibly angry and declined to comment on the outcome.
A number of potential deals under discussion in recent months could benefit from concessional financing from Tokyo.
The WTO has lurched from one disappointment to another over the past decade as it tries to find a balanced trade deal that all its members, now numbering 160, could support.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected the oil market "to stabilise itself eventually" but did not comment on talks with Russia held on Tuesday
Ergun Olgun, the Turkish Cypriot negotiator, said their own exploration would continue and even accelerate if Greek Cypriots pressed ahead with their plans to allow multinationals to exploit the area.
The decision to devalue the naira, according to analysts and central bank figures, appears aimed at saving the country's dwindling foreign reserves
Oil market watchers are divided on the outcome of OPEC's meeting in the Austrian capital. Predictions range from a large production cut to revive prices, to a small reduction, or none at all
The proliferation of smugglers' routes into Bolivia shows how difficult it is to eradicate illegal mining without better coordination across frontiers.
Falling crude prices are fueled by slowing global growth and increased supply.
Ukraine's leading banks said most of their loans to Crimean individuals and businesses were now delinquent.
Deputy Energy Minister Jaime Himende said that "Mozambique has great hydroelectricity potential, and recently they have taken some bold steps to use renewable resources efficiently"
Obama, who hosted Modi in Washington in September, will in January become the first U.S. president to visit India twice, completing a remarkable warming in the relationship
The combined damage inflicted on Russia's economy by Western sanctions and falling oil prices totals about $140 billion.
PM Mahlab said that Egypt eyes sustainable growth to improve the living conditions of Egyptians, noting that the Egyptian economy is currently recovering.