Microlending Bank Founder in Middle of Power Struggle
Grameen America, which at one point was considering opening a federal credit union in North Carolina, is coming to the defense of the founder of its international affiliate.
There are conflicting reports on whether Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, a microlending bank formed in Bangladesh, has been forced out. The New York Times reported today that Yunus was terminated as managing director of Grameen Bank, citing a statement from the bank’s chairman, Muzammel Huq. The termination was allegedly due to improper oversight and governance, including an alleged $100 million donation by the Norwegian government for housing loans to another nonprofit affiliate of Grameen, among other factors, the Times reported.
Grameen America is the New York-based affiliate of Grameen Bank.
An association calling itself Friends of Grameen provided Credit Union Times with a statement denouncing Huq’s actions and statements.
“After already several attempts to push Professor Yunus aside, and a number of frivolous legal cases being launched against him, this event is a further step in the escalation of the effort by Government of Bangladesh to oust Professor Yunus and take control of Grameen Bank,” the statement read.
In February 2009, Grameen America met with officials from the $21 billion State Employees’ Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, North Carolina Bankers Association and both the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks and the North Carolina Administrator of Credit Unions to discuss setting up an affiliate in the state. The bank provides small, short-term loans to mostly poor women to start small businesses.
Grameen America had expressed interest in obtaining a federal credit union charter in North Carolina but later said it was one long-term strategy being considered. The NCUA said on Aug. 13, 2009, that it approved a field of membership request from Grameen but that the agency had not received a formal charter application.