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PM: US pressured Joy over Yunus issue

  • Published at 01:48 pm February 18th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:21 am February 20th, 2017
PM: US pressured Joy over Yunus issue
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy had to face pressure from the US State Department to keep Muhammad Yunus as the Grameen Bank managing director. She said the then US secretary of state, assistant secretary of state and US ambassador in Dhaka had threatened several times to withdraw the Padma Bridge fund if Yunus was removed from the post of Grameen Bank MD. She made the remarks while speaking at a reception organised by the German chapter of Awami League at Marriott Hotel on Friday. "The US ambassador always came to my office and threatened me that the fund for the Padma Bridge would be stopped if Dr Yunus was removed from the managing director post of Grameen Bank," the prime minister was quoted by UNB. She said the then US assistant secretary also came to Dhaka and repeated the same thing. "Hillary Clinton phoned me and exerted the same pressure. Even the US State Department summoned my son Joy three times and told him that we would face trouble,” she added. Hasina said US State Department officials had told Joy that Hillary Clinton would not take the matter so easily. "Convince your mother," she recalled Joy saying, quoting them. Posing a question, Hasina said: “Why should such a person who received the Nobel Prize be so greedy for a simple post of managing director of a bank when the government offered him the post of Adviser Emeritus to the same bank?" The premier said as per the country's existing law, one can be the MD of any bank until 60 years of age. "But, he [Yunus] did not leave that post although he was more than 70 years old and this was very interesting. For that he continued his lobbying," she said. Mentioning that the government did not remove Yunus from his post, Hasina said: "We tried to make him an adviser, but without accepting it, he went to the court after taking advice from Dr Kamal [Hossain] and the court gave its verdict." She said the editor of a newspaper was involved in this matter as well and they both tried to float a political party during the army-backed 1/11 regime. "But, the people did not respond to their initiative." Citing a Canadian court's recent verdict dismissing the graft allegation in the Padma Bridge project, she said the truth must prevail. "Now it has been proven that there had been no corruption in the Padma Bridge project," she said. The prime minister reiterated that her government had taken the issue as a challenge and asked the World Bank to prove it which it failed to do. "Our government has successfully faced the conspiracy with honesty." Asked for a comment on the issue, a US embassy spokesperson responded to the Dhaka Tribune via email: “The United States was a strong proponent of the World Bank's finding a way to work with the Government of Bangladesh to proceed with the Padma Bridge Project, recognising its importance to Bangladesh's development and the region's connectivity.”