Grameen bank founder says sacking ‘political’

DHAKA, March 7, 2011 (AFP) – Bangladeshi Nobel laureate and micro-lending pioneer Muhammad Yunus claimed Monday his ousting from a high-profile bank job was a government power grab, as he awaited a court verdict on his dismissal. The 70-year-old — who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering the concept of small cash loans — said the government’s move last week to sack him as managing director of Grameen Bank was politically motivated.

“They want to put their own person at the chair of the bank, a political person,” Yunus told a Washington micro-lending conference via video link.

Yunus and Grameen Bank, which employs 24,000 people, shot to fame in the 1980s by lending small amounts of money to poor entrepreneurs outside the mainstream banking system.

Since then the Grameen brand has sprawled into other sectors from solar panels and popular mobile phones to ethically-produced yogurt.

His removal has sparked street protests in Bangladesh and global diplomatic scorn, with top US lawmaker John Kerry and others voicing their deep concern.

Yunus has defied the dismissal order, returning to work at Grameen’s headquarters in Dhaka and lodging a case at the High Court contesting his firing. The court wil