Nobel Prize winner Muhammed Yunus to spend six months in jail

 January 2, 2024

Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh, was sentenced to six months in jail for labor crimes, the Associated Press reported on Monday. 

Yunus helped establish the Grameen Bank and was known as "the People's Banker," but was later investigated and removed from the administration of the bank.

“We are being punished for a crime we did not commit,” Yunus told reporters about the charges against him and three colleagues from Grameen Telecom.

In addition to the jail time, Yunus was also fined 30,000 takas, which equals $260.

Yunus released on bail

The Third Labor Court under Sheikh Merina Sultana handed down the ruling and immediately released Yunus and his three Grameen Telecom colleagues on bail, pending appeal. The violations included failure to make 67 employees permanent and not forming staff welfare funds.

“It was my fate, the nation’s fate. We have accepted this verdict, but will appeal this verdict and continue fighting against this sentence,” Yunus said.

“We have been deprived of justice,” defense lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun said.

Yunus has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The investigations into him and other colleagues started when he became interested in running for political office.

The powers-that-be, including then-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, may have upset because Yunus had accused them of being greedy.

Credit as a right

Grameen Bank, which was established in 1983 by Yunus, gave microloans to low-income people so they could start businesses. Yunus had also given microloans to people in Bangladesh before the bank was established.

Such practices help people rise above disadvantaged circumstances and make a living for themselves.

Yunus saw microcredit as a basic human right. At the time, most people could not get any kind of credit without having collateral, or something of value to secure the loan.

The poor that Yunus lent money to did not have any collateral and could not typically make use of credit for that reason. “Lend the poor money in amounts which suit them, teach them a few basic financial principles, and they generally manage on their own,” Yunus claimed.

Whether Yunus began to take advantage of the poor in his later ventures as he has been accused of doing is anyone's guess. Someone is corrupt in this situation, either Yunus or those who have been investigating him.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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