Yunus loses final legal battle in Bangla SC against sacking

Apex court ratifies earlier HC order confirming the dismissal; another petition by directors supporting Yunus comes up tomorrow

Dhaka: Bangladesh's Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus today lost his final legal battle to remain as the chief of the micro-lending Grameen Bank he founded nearly three decades ago, as the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against the sacking, capping his month-long dispute with authorities.

"Dismissed", chief justice ABM Khairul Haque pronounced, after the rejection of his appeal by a seven-member Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, which upheld an earlier High Court verdict, validating his sacking as managing director of Grameen Bank by the central Bangladesh Bank, during a four-hour hearing.

Earlier on 8th March, a two-member High Court bench, after three days of hearing, had rejected 70-year-old Mr Yunus' writ challenging his removal from the pioneering micro-lending agency that he founded in 1983.

Mr Yunus was not present at the apex court when it delivered the verdict, while his Grameen Bank postponed a press briefing they called immediately after the judgement, sighting no reasons, reports PTI.

But Grameen Bank lawyers said another petition filed by nine directors of the micro-finance institution, who stood by Mr Yunus, would come up for apex court's consideration tomorrow, though several legal experts feared it was unlikely to bring any different result.

The verdict came as reports earlier this week said negotiations to resolve the Yunus issue outside the court progressed towards a "positive direction" amid growing international criticism of his unceremonious dismissal from the micro-finance bank.

No progress of the negotiation process, however, had been reported by either of the sides yet, but finance minister AMA Muhith had earlier said the government looked for ways for an amicable settlement of the issue, who visibly rallied huge international support behind him after his removal.

Mr Yunus last week appeared before a five-member government committee constituted in January this year to "review" the Grameen Bank transactions, which, however, was not directly linked to his removal.

The committee's chair Monwar Ahmed Khan at that time said Mr Yunus told them that he was now thinking how he could be associated with the Grameen Bank in an "alternative way".

The apex court had earlier adjourned until 4th April the hearing on Mr Yunus' appeal, allowing both sides to take more time to reach a compromise, as insisted by the United States and other major development partners.

Bangladesh Bank, which is nominally independent from the government, fired Mr Yunus on 2nd March this year, as it found that that his appointment in 2000 as the micro-lending agency's executive chief was faulty, because the central bank's mandatory approval was not obtained at that time.


Maruti raises rates between Rs1,100 and Rs9,000

Price hike across all models to offset rising input costs, company says

New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest carmaker, today announced a hike in the prices of its vehicles across all models by up to Rs 9,000, the second price increase in three months.

"We have undertaken a price hike across the models ranging between 0.2% and 2.4%," a company official told PTI. This translates into a minimum increase of Rs1,100 and a maximum of Rs9,000 depending on the model and will be effective from 4th April across the country.

The price increase was undertaken to offset rising input costs, the official said. The details of price hike across different models could not be ascertained. Maruti's models are priced between Rs2 lakh and Rs9 lakh.

Maruti Suzuki is 54.2% owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor. The company last raised prices in January by up to 2.4% across most models.  

Last week, Maruti reported car sales rose 28.2% in March. Rival Tata Motors also raised prices on some of its passenger and utility vehicles effective 1st April.


Merkel stops India-Bundesbank Iran deal: report

German government steps in, under pressure from the US and Israel, to prevent new payments for oil through German bank 

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel has put a stop to plans that have irked Washington and Israel, for India to channel oil payments to Iran through the German central bank, a business daily reported today.

According to the Handelsblatt business daily, India-under US pressure to break direct commercial links with the Islamic republic-intended to place money for its Iranian oil imports in an account with the Bundesbank.

The Bundesbank would then transfer the money-about nine billion euros ($12.8 billion) annually-to the European-Iranian Trade Bank AG (EIH), based in the northern German city of Hamburg, the paper had said.

The German government had said it was powerless to stop the deal because EIH, also known as EIHB, was not subject to sanctions, because the bank was not involved in financing Iran's controversial nuclear activities.

The New York Times last week quoted an unnamed US Treasury official as saying the United States was "concerned" and that Washington wanted "to work with all our allies to isolate EIH."

Israel and Jewish groups were also reported to be annoyed. But now, Berlin has stepped in, the Handelsblatt cited high-ranking German government officials as saying on Tuesday. Payments for oil already delivered can go ahead, but no new transactions will take place, the paper said.

Contacted by AFP, neither the Bundesbank nor the German economy ministry were immediately available for comment.

Germany has long been under fire for its close business ties with Iran, with the country's exports there totalling 3.8 billion euros in 2010, according to official figures.

Sales generated by German industrial giant Siemens in its last business year, which ended 30th September, rose more than 20% to 680 million euros, The Wall Street Journal reported today.


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