Bangladesh: Court Orders Nobel Laureate Yunus To Pay $1.2M Tax On Donations


By Ahammad Foyez

Bangladesh’s High Court on Wednesday ordered Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus to pay 120 million taka (U.S. $1.2 million) in taxes for charitable donations, in what some say are part of dozens of politically motivated cases against him by the Sheikh Hasina government.

The court’s decision came a day after the country’s anti-graft watchdog sued him for the alleged embezzlement of more than $2 million from the employees’ welfare fund of Grameen Telecom, a company that the 82-year-old economist founded and chairs.

The High Court rejected petitions filed by Yunus against being taxed for the donations to three charitable trusts, saying the tax imposition on gifts was justified and he was not entitled to an exemption.

“[Y]unus will have to pay this money, as the High Court turned down his three petitions seeking tax exemption on $7.16 million (767.3 million taka) that he gifted to three trusts … in the assessment years between 2011 and 2014,” Attorney General A.M. Amin Uddin told reporters, explaining the decision.

“He tried to evade taxes.”

Yunus’ lawyer Mustafizur Rahman Khan said he and his client would decide on an appeal after receiving and reading the full judgment of the court.

These developments come about nine months after 40 global figures urged the Bangladesh government to stop harassing Yunus. The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner is known worldwide for pioneering microcredit as a method of lifting millions out of poverty through his Grameen Bank.

In an open letter, these global figures, who included former United States top diplomat Hillary Rodham Clinton and rock star Bono, said they hoped Bangladesh would allow Yunus to focus his energy on doing humanitarian work “rather than on defending himself.”

Yunus currently faces at least 30 income tax and labor-related cases, another of his lawyers, Abdullah Al Mamun, told BenarNews, adding that the number used to be more than 100 until a settlement five years ago.

“We do not have the account of all the cases as some workers of his [Yunus’] organization filed cases separately. But we can say this much that at present we are dealing with at least 30 cases including writ petitions on various issues,” he said.

‘It is shameful’

On Wednesday, Badiul Alam Majumdar, country director of The Hunger Project, an international volunteer organization said Yunus was a victim of political vendetta.

“We should use Yunus’ worldwide fame. But we are not doing that, rather we are insulting him, it is shameful,” he told BenarNews.Prime Minister Hasina’s government has not hidden its hostility toward Yunus.

The Bangladesh leader and her Awami League believe that Yunus pressured the World Bank to block funding for the ambitious Padma Bridge project because he was furious at being dismissed as head of Grameen Bank in 2011.

Yunus has denied any involvement in the World Bank’s decision. 

Meanwhile, opponents have noted that the administration has increasingly and brazenly targeted Hasina’s critics and journalists, using state machinery and oppressive laws. 

The issue has come to the attention of other democracies and human rights groups as well.

Last week, the United States announced it would deny visas to Bangladeshis whom it believes undermine democratic elections in the South Asian nation. 

The policy was intended to send a message to the citizens of Bangladesh that Washington was closely watching the run-up to the upcoming national polls, the U.S. State Department said.

The Biden administration announced the new policy after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern to Dhaka last month about threats and physical attacks against members of the Bangladeshi media, including under a draconian digital law, ahead of the next general election, which is due in December or January.


BenarNews’ mission is to provide readers with accurate news and information that reflects the complex and ever-changing world around them. With homepages in Bengali, Thai, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and English, BenarNews brings timely news to its diverse audience. Copyright BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews

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