Illegal transactions involving some Tk 250 million have been found in the bank accounts of lawyers and union leaders of Grameen Telecom, an organisation of Nobel laureate Professor Dr Muhammad Yunus.
The illegal transactions took place after the withdrawal of all 110 cases filed by ‘Grameen Telecom union of workers and employees’ against Yunus and his organisation Grameen Telecom at different courts after the parties reached an out-of-court settlement over the claim of the employees.
The court directed both the parties to submit a statement jointly regarding the due payments of the employees of Grameen Telecom, an organisation owned by Dr Yunus.
The Judge also asked the lawyers of the plaintiff and defendant to remain present at the court with affidavit copies of the memorandum of understanding and other evidence on the out-of-court settlement on August 2.
Earlier on April 27, an agreement was signed between ‘Grameen Telecom’ and ‘Grameen Telecom union of workers and employees’ on the condition of giving all dues of over Tk 4.37 billion to the employees.
On May 23, the High Court passed an order dismissing a petition filed by the employees seeking liquidation of Grameen Telecom.
As per the agreement, Grameen Telecom on May 10 opened an account (Grameen Telecom, 2151500002568) at Dhaka Bank’s Gulshan Branch and deposited all the dues of employees (Tk 4.37 billion) to the account from another account of United Commercial Bank (0561301000000010) of Grameen Telecom, sources said.
According to data, Tk 100 million was transferred from the Dhaka Bank account to the Dutch Bangla Bank account on May 17 with cheque no 1489199, Tk 145.8 million with cheque no 1489367 and Tk 163.9 million were transferred with cheque no 1489369 on May 25.
Later, from May 19 to June 2, Tk 250 million from Dutch Bangla were transferred to the personal accounts of the lawyers and union leaders of Grameen Telecom with 13 cheques.
Of the Tk 250 million, lawyer of Grameen Telecom union of workers and employees Yusuf Ali, joint convener of Singra Upazila BNP of Natore district, received Tk 90 million, and another lawyer of Grameen Telecom union of workers and employees Jafrul Hasan Chowdhury received Tk 60 million and their law farm ‘attorney’s’ received Tk 10 million.
It is also alleged that lawyer Jafrul Hasan Chowdhury got the money as he provided information to his partner Yusuf Ali by taking benefit from a panel lawyer of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
Union president Kamruzzaman, general secretary Mahmud Hasan Firoz and another union leader Mainul Islam received Tk 30 million each.
Besides, Lokman and Kamrul withdrew Tk 4 million and Tk one million respectively from the account with five cheques.
Documents show that Yusuf Ali received Tk 90 million through the banking channel but it is alleged that he received over Tk 120 million for settling the case.
After the hearing, Yusuf Ali refuted the claim saying that such allegation is nothing but a rumour.
During the hearing, justice Khurshid Alam said, “We have heard that the employees' lawyer was biased in exchange for money and the employees were forced to settle the case.”
He also said, "There should not be any irregularities in the ways the court is used to settle disputes. If everything is not in accordance with the law, the matter will be taken seriously. I don't want any question to be raised about the integrity of the court and the lawyer.”
The court observed that there is no lawyer, not only in Bangladesh but also in this subcontinent, charges a fee of Tk 120 million in a case.
A total of Tk 3.8 billion has already been paid to the 168 out of 176 Grameen Telecom employees.
The payment of the remaining eight employees is being delayed due to legal complications since four of the employees died already and four others are abroad.
More than 110 cases were filed against Dr Yunus and his organization Grameen Telecom by the members of the ‘Grameen Telecom union of workers and employees' over their claims.
A total of 176 workers and employees had filed 104 cases with labour courts and six with the High Court claiming Tk 4.37 billion in payments.
The workers and the employees of the company are entitled to get 5 per cent of the net profit of Grameen Telecom as per the rule.
But the company has not been paying the dues to the employees, forcing the staffers to file cases with the Labour Court and the High Court.