Image: Bangladeshi banker and 2006 Nobel peace prize laureate Muhammad Yunus
Fabrice Coffrini  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Bangladeshi banker and 2006 Nobel peace prize laureate Muhammad Yunus in Davos during the Davos Philanthropic Roundtable on the second day of the World Economic Forum on Jan. 29, 2009.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/2/2011 6:50:32 AM ET 2011-03-02T11:50:32

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been forced out as head of his microfinance bank.

Private Desh TV and Bangla Vision Television cited Bangladesh's state-run central bank on Wednesday as saying that Yunus has been removed from his position as the managing director of Grameen Bank.

The government owns a 25 percent stake in Grameen, which lends small amounts of money to the poor and spurred similar lending practices worldwide.

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BBC News reported that Yunus' removal came after a long-running feud with the government. It said relations with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, have been strained since he tried to create a new political party in 2007.

Yunus' website lists a string of international awards for his work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was awarded by Barack Obama in 2009.

He and Grameen Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

'Break out of poverty'
The Nobel committee said it was "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below."

"Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights," the committee said in a statement.

"Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries," it added.

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The central bank has claimed that Yunus — a longtime critic of the government — violated the country's retirement laws by staying on as Grameen's head well past the mandatory retirement age of 60. Yunus is 70.

"The (central) Bangladesh Bank has relieved Yunus of his duties as the managing director of Grameen Bank with immediate effect," Muzammel Huq, Grameen's chairman, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

"Yunus was appointed as the managing director of Grameen Bank in 2000 without the prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank," he added. "The Grameen Bank bylaw 14.1 clearly states that 'there shall be a managing director who shall be appointed by the board with the prior approval of the Bangladesh Bank,'" he said.

"Yunus was appointed to the position of managing director indefinitely in 2000 without prior approval from the Bangladesh Bank and that is why he has been removed," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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