Grameen Telecom union leaders remanded for ‘breach of trust’ through settlement

A Dhaka court has granted police seven days to grill in custody two leaders of Grameen Telecom Employees Union over the Tk 4.37 billion settlement of 110 cases against the company and its founder Muhammad Yunus.

Published : 6 July 2022, 07:45 PM
Updated : 6 July 2022, 08:19 PM

The Detective Branch of Police produced the union’s President Md Kamruzzaman, 37, and General Secretary Firoz Mahmud Hasan, 42, in court on Wednesday after their arrest in a case started by another leader.

The union’s Finance Secretary Mohammad Aktaruzzaman initiated the case at Mirpur Police Station on Monday, bringing charges related to breach of trust, fraud and embezzlement against Kamruzzaman and Firoz.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Harunor Rashid said the cases against the company over unpaid dividends were withdrawn “hastily” through an out-of-court settlement.

Citing the case against the union leaders, Harunor said the Tk 4.37 billion dues of over a decade were paid to a bank account opened for the transactions.

Kamruzzaman and Firoz, in collusion with the union’s Vice-President Mainul Hasan, embezzled Tk 90 million from the funds while Yousuf Ali, the lawyer for the union, embezzled around Tk 160 million as “illogical and exaggerated” fees, Harunor said.

Yousuf on Sunday denied allegations that he forced his clients to settle the 110 cases against the company and Nobel Peace laureate Yunus in exchange for a questionable amount of fees. He also said Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit froze six of his and his associates’ bank accounts.

Yousuf Ali

After an online news portal reported that Yousuf had taken Tk 120 million in fees from his clients for the settlement, the High Court last week ordered both sides to submit reports jointly on the transactions.

Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar said at the hearing they had heard that the lawyer for the Grameen Telecom employees had been “biased” and “forced” his clients to agree to the settlement.

“There cannot be any irregularities by using the court. The matter must be looked into seriously if everything hasn’t been following the law.”

“Not only in Bangladesh, but nowhere in the subcontinent is there a lawyer who can charge Tk 120 million fees for fighting just one case.”

On Wednesday, Supreme Court lawyer Md Ashraful Islam filed a writ petition at the High Court Division, demanding an investigation into the fees taken by Yousuf from the union.

Ashraful also demanded a rule seeking explanation from the Bar Council chairman and secretary why they would not initiate the investigation to preserve the dignity of lawyers.

He said a vacation bench is expected to hear the petition on Thursday.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher