• Sunday, June 23, 2024

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh court orders Muhammad Yunus to pay £780,000 in taxes

Yunus has been credited with helping eradicate extreme poverty in Bangladesh

Muhammad Yunus

By: Pramod Thomas

BANGLADESH’s top court ordered Nobel Prize winner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus to pay more than $1 million (£780,000) in taxes on a $7m (£5.46m) donation made to three charitable trusts, lawyers said on Monday (24).

Yunus, 83, is credited with lifting millions out of poverty with his pioneering micro-credit bank, but he has fallen out with prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who has said he is “sucking blood” from the poor.

He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting economic development.

“The Supreme Court… dismissed our petition,” Yunus’ lawyer Sarder Jinnat Ali said.

The court, which upheld a decision by a lower court, ruled last Sunday that Yunus must pay as the law does not support tax exemptions for donations to trusts.

Yunus had donated 767 million taka ($7m) to the Professor Muhammad Yunus Trust, the Yunus Family Trust and the Yunus Centre between 2011 and 2014.

The court ordered he pay a total tax bill of 150 million taka ($1.4m), 30 million taka of which he has already paid.

Yunus has been credited with helping eradicate extreme poverty in Bangladesh by offering microfinance loans to tens of millions of rural women through Grameen Bank, which he founded in the 1980s.

Bangladesh’s anti-graft watchdog last year ordered a wide-ranging probe into firms that Yunus chairs, and Hasina has attacked him personally, blaming him for the World Bank pulling out from a bridge project that was mired in corruption allegations.

When the bridge near Dhaka finally opened in June last year, Hasina said Yunus should be “dipped in a river” for jeopardising its completion.

In March, 40 global figures including former UN chief Ban Ki-moon and former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton published a joint letter calling on Bangladesh to stop “unfair” attacks and harassment of Yunus.

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