Govt to take legal action against Yunus

NBR, BB may take legal steps separately, says cabinet secretary

File photo: Muhammad Yunus

The government Monday decided to take legal action against Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus for what it said “tax exemption without following due procedure”.

The cabinet took the decision on receiving a report from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) following its investigation into Yunus’ incomes from overseas sources since August 2, last year.

According to the cabinet, the Nobel laureate, while serving as a public servant, obtained tax exemption facility illegally on his income from foreign sources.

Briefing reporters after the regular cabinet meeting held at Cabinet Division of the Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain said the cabinet also think that Yunus breached the Grameen Bank Ordinance by transferring funds from Grameen Bank to Grameen Kalyan, one of its associated organisations, since the microcredit bank can only lend to landless people.

Yunus also lent money to an organisation linked with his family at a low interest rate, the cabinet said.

According to information published in newspapers Monday, the NBR has not found any evidence that Muhammad Yunus as a wage earner obtained tax exemption facility illegally on his income from foreign sources.

‘TAX EXEMPTION NOT PROPER’

According to the cabinet, Yunus took honorarium from 133 foreign institutions, awards from 10 and royalties from 12 institutions from June 2004 to 2011, earning a total of Tk 50.61 crore.

Of the money, Tk 12.65 crore was exempted of tax, it added.

The NBR has raised questions that the Nobel laureate did not take permission from the government before receiving the money as a “public servant” in honorariums, awards and royalties from foreign sources.

Since the banker to the poor didn’t have the government’s consent for accepting those awards and money, the NBR thinks the tax exemption was not proper, according to the cabinet secretary.

LEGAL ACTION

The cabinet said the NBR and the central bank may launch legal action against Yunus.

If needed, the law ministry will provide legal assistance to them in this regard, Musharraf said.

Under the law, only the Grameen Bank may enjoy tax exemption, not other associate bodies or Yunus as a person, he added.

REPORT TO BE PUBLISHED

The government will make the NBR report public, Musharraf told reporters.

NBR submitted the report more than a year after the cabinet asked it to look into whether the tax exemption that Prof Yunus had enjoyed as a wage earner was legal.

Source: The Daily Star

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