Bangladesh launches probe into alleged Grameen anomalies

Bangladesh launched an investigation into alleged anomalies in fund operation of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus`s Grameen Bank, a day after it constituted a committee to probe the matter.

Updated: Jan 13, 2011, 00:52 AM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday launched an
investigation into alleged anomalies in fund operation of
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus`s Grameen Bank, a day after it
constituted a committee to probe the matter.

The government yesterday formed the five-member probe
committee headed by a university professor with other members
being a senior central bank official, a former deputy auditor
and comptroller general, a Supreme Court lawyer and two
bankers.

"The committee has started its investigation," a
Finance Ministry official said today.

The official said the committee was asked to review
Grameen Bank`s lending rate compared to other micro-lenders
along with the allegation of fund transfer violating the
financial rules.

The development came nearly a month after Finance
Minister A M A Muhith said the government would investigate
into alleged anomalies in transactions Grameen Bank despite a
green chit offered by its Norwegian donor clearing him of the
charge.

He said the government already received the reports of
Norway as well as the Grameen Bank and "studying both the
reports and probe committee report would be made public".

"Definitely there should be an investigation to find
out what actually happened," she told a press conference at
her office and added the Grameen Bank`s exposure to the
controversy could have caused as it tried to play a "trick" to
evade government taxes.

Yunus, whose experiment of poor men`s banking earned
Bangladesh the fame of being the home of microcredit and Nobel
Peace Prize for him and his institution in 1996, immediately
welcomed investigations into fund diversion allegations.

A Norwegian TV last month aired a documentary alleging
that Yunus drew off nearly USD 100 million in aid for poor
borrowers of Grameen Bank to Grameen Kalyan, a non-profit
sister venture of Grameen Bank in 1996 violating agreements
with the donor and financial laws of Bangladesh.

Muhith, earlier, had apparently came in defence of
Yunus after the Grameen Bank trashed allegations of fund
diversion breaching agreements with donors and violating
Bangladesh`s financial laws.

"We have a tendency to look for others` faults.. I see
no fault in the transfer of the fund," Muhith told newsmen.

Norway on December 8 had issued a statement saying it
found no evidence of donor fund embezzlement by his Grameen
Bank.

"There is no indication that Norwegian funds have been
used for unintended purposes, or that Grameen Bank has engaged
in corrupt practises or embezzled funds," Norwegian Minister
for Environment and International Development Erik Solheim
said a statement issued by the country?s foreign ministry.

PTI