The ekShop, a groundbreaking project launched by Aspire to Innovate (a2i), has been honored with the United Nations' prestigious 'SDG Digital GameChangers Award' for its remarkable efforts in diminishing the urban-rural divide by introducing e-commerce services to remote areas of Bangladesh. This accolade was presented in the 'Game Changer for Prosperity' category, a joint initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The award ceremony, a highlight of the UN's dedicated SDG Action Weekend, took place on September 16th at the UN Headquarters in New York. A2i's Policy Advisor, Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Head of Commercial Strategy, Mr. Rezwanul Haque Jami, and Programme Associate (Outreach & Resource Mobilization), Mr. Md Sahariar Hasan, proudly accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
The SDG Digital GameChangers Award recognizes individuals and organizations at the forefront of digital solutions aimed at accelerating progress toward global goals. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with other partners and supporters, presented this award in five categories: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Pioneer.
Despite the worldwide adoption of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, achieving these 17 Goals and their 169 associated targets remains a significant challenge. Accelerating progress necessitates the rapid adoption of digital technologies and continuous innovation. As leaders from governments and businesses worldwide convened for the United Nations General Assembly, a new UN-led partnership recognized digital innovators dedicated to SDG success.
The ekShop, with its inclusive e-commerce model, empowers small and medium-sized enterprises, refugees, and individuals facing digital disparities, particularly in the least-developed countries. This initiative has emerged as a vital digital public good, effectively bridging the digital divide and making a substantial impact. This achievement not only reflects positively on Bangladesh but also sets an example for others worldwide to develop sustainable economic systems aligned with the SDGs.
The ekShop stands as Bangladesh's pioneering rural-assisted e-commerce platform, with a primary mission to deliver essential products swiftly and conveniently to people's doorsteps. Currently, over 12 thousand rural artisans are actively selling their products through this platform, which has already facilitated the delivery of more than 8 million products to various regions of the country via cash on delivery.
Sellers interested in showcasing and selling their products can easily join the ekShop platform, either independently or with assistance from entrepreneurs at Union Digital Centres. Moreover, the ekShop offers a comprehensive delivery management system, which proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic. This service is accessible to any e-commerce organization or entrepreneur for product delivery, with the involvement of the Post & Telecommunication Division and various product delivery organizations nationwide.
To address the digital disparity issue, the ekShop's model is being replicated not only within Bangladesh but also in underdeveloped countries such as South Sudan, Yemen, Turkey, Somalia, and a province of the Philippines. The United Nations is actively supporting the expansion of this model beyond Bangladesh's borders.
a2i, a comprehensive government program implemented by the ICT Division and Cabinet Division, with support from UNDP Bangladesh, plays a pivotal role in promoting citizen-friendly public service innovations, simplifying government procedures, and bringing government services closer to the people. It aligns with the government's efforts to adopt new, whole-of-society approaches in achieving the SDGs.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen in a statement stated "I recall with sadness the 9/11 Twin Tower devastation, in which 2,988 innocent people lost their lives, of which 6 were from Bangladesh and 3 were from my own district, Sylhet. While we pray for their salvation, we hope that such will never reoccur again.
We are pleased that our recent discussion with the US leadership is very encouraging. It has taken many steps to end terrorism. In Bangladesh, due to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's zero-tolerance policy to terrorism, there have not been any bomb blasts, grenade attacks, and fear of deaths due to terrorist attacks".
He wished that all should work together sincerely so that under any pretext, the ugly face of terrorists and radicals do not get heyday as they did from 2001 through 2006.
In 1997 when Dr. Yunus received license of Grameen Telecom (hereinafter referred to as “GTC”) from the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he gave commitment that GTC would work only for the welfare and betterment of the poor people. Unfortunately, after taking the license, he thought only for his own interest and handed over the lion portion of shares of Grameen Phone Limited to the foreign company. At present GTC owns 34.20% shares in Grameen Phone Limited against which it receives thousands crores of dividend in every year. Most of this dividend income of GTC is illegally syphoned out of the country in the name of the so called social business of Dr. Yunus. Against the illegal activities of Dr. Yunus and his company, GTC, two types of legal action can be taken, (1) Initiating criminal proceedings against Dr. Yunus and his board members in accordance with applicable laws of the country, and (2) Winding up the GTC through court and taking over the properties of the GTC and handing over to any similar company under the management of the Government as per the provisions of Companies Act, 1994.
Bribing the Court to Get Favourable Verdict: Dr. Yunus Got Favourable Verdict from the Labour Court Bribing the Presiding Judge
The individual employees initiated proceedings to enforce their lawful claim of participation in the 5% of net profit of the GTC by filing as many as 107 BLA (IR) Cases before the 3rd Labor Court, Dhaka in the year 2017. GTC filed about a hundred Writ Petitions challenging the interim orders of the Labour Court, passed in those IR Cases.
Pending hearing of those Writ Petitions, the GTC terminated all the 99 employees who were in service at that relevant time by a single notice dated 25.10.2020. Challenging such illegal termination separate applications were filed by the individual employees praying for their reinstatement in their former posts with all back wages in the pending Writ Petitions which was ultimately allowed and the honorable High Court Division was pleased to direct the GTC to reinstate them with all back wages. However, they challenged such order before the Hon’ble Appellate Division (the highest court of the country), but the Hon’ble Appellate Division was pleased not to interfere into the order of the High Court Division. Hence GTC management realized that they would not be able to get their favourable verdict from any Divisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. As such, they approached to a lobbyist firm namely “Dhaka Logistics Services & Solution (DLSS)” of Mr. Rafiqul Islam (Mobile No. +8801729253111) for getting favourable verdict influencing the concerned courts. GTC appointed the said lobbyist firm through their 104th Board Meeting held on 14.06.2021 with a post facto effect from 25.05.2021. The then Managing Director of the GTC Mr. Ashraful Hassan proposed in the said board meeting inter alia as-
“………বাংলাদেশে আইনি ভাবে লড়াই করে সব জায়গায় টেকা যায় না । সেক্ষেত্রে আমাদের দুটো জিনিস, একটা হল IR consultant বলে একটা consultant বাংলাদেশে কাজ করে। তারা internal relations এর কাজ করে । Stakeholders, law, judiciary, সরকারের influencial people, রাজনীতিবিদ, এসব মিলে তারা একটা পজিশন পেপার তৈরি করে…… ।
Dr. Yusus, the Chairman of the GTC approved the said proposal with outmost satisfaction. In approving the above proposal Dr. Yusus declared inter alia as-
“এ দুটো প্রস্তাব খুবই ভাল প্রস্তাব, এ দুটি প্রস্তাব আমি স্বেচ্ছায় encourage করছি...এটা আমরা অনুমোদন করলাম। আর দ্বিতীয় বিষয় হলো এ আইটেম নিয়ে যে আলোচনা হলো তা off the record, শুধূ decision গুলা থাকবে। minutes টা খুব সংক্ষেপে হবে।“
Being so appointed, DLSS prepared an assessment report with their blue print way forward with an estimated cost of 13.80 crores taka for resolving the issues by way of influencing the courts, other government officials and high ups in the government for which DLSS was paid in advance an amount of BDT. 5,00,000.00 as for their fees. The said Assessment report was sent to the then Managing Director Mr. Ashraful Hassan through email dated 22.06.2021 stating inter alia as-
“… However, please find attached the assessment and way forward including the tentative cost which can be negotiated upon the actual involvement of the level of influence and through whom with an objective to clean the whole issue in favour of GTC.”
In the said Assessment report, DLSS categorically stated under column “Findings” that GTC bribed Mr. Shahajahan Saju, the Chairman of 1st Labour Court, Dhaka to get verdict in their favour. It has been stated by the DLSS as their Findings- “GTC dependency on Mr. Shahjahan, the former Chairman, Labour Court who digested the whole piece of cake alone that GTC paid time to time.”
By way of influencing the Labour Court through bribing, GTC got an interim stay order on the functions of the Trade Union of the Grameen Telecom Employees although there are explicit provisions in the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 that unless and until the registration of a Trade Union is finally cancelled, its function can no way be stayed. That order of stay was outright illegal and product of bribe which was ultimately stayed by the Hon’ble High Court Division and the same was confirmed by the Hon’ble Appellate Division. Therefore, necessary punitive action can be taken against Dr. Yunus and his associates following necessary investigation for bribing the court and approving a proposal of DLSS before the Board of Grameen Telecom to bribe the judges and public officials as part of an assignment for DLSS on behalf of Grameen Telecom.
It is to be noted that under Bangladesh laws, bribing any official performing any public responsibility including judicial responsibility as well as appointing any entity (such as lobbyist firm) for influencing any public office (including judiciary) is a punishable offence.
Dr. Yunus Plotted to Deprive the Employees from Their Legal Entitlements Using 13.80 Crores of Taka
In the said Assessment report, the DLSS proposed a “Top Down Approach” in which they have basically incorporated a series of illegal activities and corrupt practices to influence the judiciary along with the incumbent Labour Minister, Law Minister, important officials of the government and political leaders of the country. In this regard, the DLSS in their proposal made a graphical presentation of the stakeholders mapping whereby it is seen that they have targeted the Hon’ble Ministers of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Industry, and their respective secretaries and high-ups, political leaders of the ruling party to influence the judiciary to fulfill their objective of dismissing the labour court cases and cancellation of the registration of the Trade Union.
On the basis of such proposal, GTC hired the services of the DLSS to adopt the so called “Top Down Approach”. The followings were proposed in said Top Down Approach-
· “We will engage with Minister personally and through our liaison to brief and condition her Majesty Honorable Labour Minister.
· Will condition the Labour secretariat.
· Will condition Inspector General of Factories (IGF)
· Will Condition Labour Director
· Will Convince Labour Leaders in one to one session since they are our committee members in different forum
· Engage Ministry to device an exit package”
Dr. Yunus Committed Crime of Money Laundering under the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2012 and Grameen Telecom (GTC) has been transferring its dividents Grameen Kallyan in violation of section 28 & 29 of the Companies Act, 1994
Grameen Telecom (GTC) is a company limited by guarantee and licensed under section 28 of the Companies Act, 1994. It has no share capital. Dr. Yunus took the license of the Company with the objective inter alia to promote development of tele-communication and ancillary services in the rural areas for reducing poverty in Bangladesh by extending loans and grants both in cash and kind to the poor. At the time of taking license, the members of the GTC declared that sharing of dividends is prohibited. Section 29 further restricted on sharing of dividends of a company licensed under section 28. The relevant provision of section 28 and 29 are as follows:
“28. (1) Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Government that an association capable of being formed as a limited company has been or in about to be formed for promoting commerce, art, science, religion, charity, or any other useful object, and applies or intends to apply its profits, if any or other income in promoting its objects and to prohibit the payment of any dividend to its members the Government may, by licence with approval of one of its Secretaries, direct that the association be registered as a company with limited liability, without the addition of the word “Limited” to its name, and the association may be registered accordingly.”
“29. (1) In the case of company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital and registered after the commencement of this Act every provision in the memorandum or articles or in any resolution of the company purporting to give any person a right to participate in the divisible profits of the company otherwise than as a member shall be void.”
GTC earned thousands of crores taka each year as dividend from Grameen Phone Ltd against its 34.20% shares in the capital of Grameen Phone. Out of this dividend, GTC shares 42.65% to Grameen Kallyan on the cause that it took a loan facility of taka 53,25,62,941.00 at the time of acquiring share of Grameen Phone. Against such loan of taka only 53.25 crores, GTC has been sharing hundreds crores of dividend in each year. A statement of dividend sharing since 2003 to 2017 are as follows:
After 2017, the amount of dividend income from Grameen Phone has been increased substantially, and accordingly, the amount of dividend transferred to Grameen Kollyan after 2017 has increased. As such, till 2022 about 5000 (Five Thousand) Crores of taka has been illegally disbursed to the Grameen Kollayan as dividend against their loan of an amount of BDT. 53.25 crores only. The audit firm, in writing warned the management of GTC for such illegal transaction in 2017. The Audit Firm of GTC, categorically stated in a management letter in 2017 as follows:
“During the year under audit Grameen Telecom received a dividend of Taka 8,080,912,158 against their holding of 34.20% in the shares of Grameen Phone Limited. Out of total receipt of dividend of taka 8,080,912,158, taka 3,446,672,270 was distributed to Grameen Kalyan as dividend, although Grameen Kalyan does not have any holdings in the shares of Grameen Phone Limited…. Recommendation: We recommend that these types of treatments should be discontinued otherwise problem may arise in future.”
The entire approximate amount of BDT. 5000 crores have been transferred to Grameen Kollyan illegally and without any lawful authority. Even after receipt of such humongous amount of dividend, they have no visible undertakings or project for the welfare poor people. Besides Grameen Kollyan, GTC syphoning huge amount of money to the other entities of Dr. Yunus. As for example, GTC donated an amount of BDT. 1413.58 Crores of taka to Grameen Telecom Trust during the period of 31.12.2010 to 22.08.2013. The above mentioned illegally transferred huge amount of Money eventually misappropriated by Dr. Yunus and his board members in the name of social business. The regulatory and government authorities do not have any information about the final destination of the money transferred illegally. An extensive investigation is necessary under Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2012 to find out the final destination of the said illegally transferred money. There is a prima facie case that the entire amount or any part of the same was taking away from country through layering. This is a punishable offence under section 4 of the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2012.
Dr. Yunus’s Commission of Crime under section 397 of the Companies Act, 1994
Dr. Yunus’s company GTC submits its annual returns to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies And Firms (RJSC) with false statements that no dividend is distributed although thousands crores of dividends have been distributed to Grameen Kollyan over the years which has been explicitly shown in the previous part of this paper. This sort of false statements in the annual return is a punishable offence under section 397 of the Companies Act, 1994.
Section 397 of the Companies Act, 1994 provides penalty for false statement. It says: ‘Whoever in any return, report, certificate balance-sheet or other documents, required by or for the purposes of any of the provisions of this Act, willfully makes a statement false in any material particular, knowing it to be false, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.’
It is to be noted that if it would have been disclosed that GTC has transferred its dividends to another entity, it would lose its status under section 28 of the Companies Act and their license under section 28 as a non profit company would have been cancelled by the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies And Firms (RJSC).
Dr. Yunus’s Clandestine Style of Evasion of Taxes of Millions of Dollars
Grameen Telecom in violation of the provisions of section 28 and 29 of the Companies Act 1994 distributes 42.6% of its Dividend income from Grameen Phone Limited (GP) to Grameen Kallyan (GK) although GK is not a shareholder of Grameen Phone Limited. In fact the entire Dividend income has to be booked as the income of the GTC and accordingly tax has to be paid at the applicable corporate rate for the relevant income year. But if we study their audited accounts, we will see they paid almost half of their dividend income from the GP to GK only upon deduction of advance income tax (AIT) at the rate of 10-20% while the applicable corporate tax rate was 37.5% to 35%.
The difference of this corporate rate and the dividend tax is surely an evasion of taxes as the GK is not at all entitled to the Dividend income of GP. If we sum up all the evaded taxes since the beginning, the amount of the evaded taxes shall be somewhere close to one thousand crore Taka only in the case of Grameen Telecom.
It is important to note that there are also huge number of litigations and writ petitions pending in the courts of Bangladesh regarding tax evasions of Dr. Yunus in other companies where he has been holding the position as chairman of the boards of the companies. In almost all of the issues, there are prima facie cases that substantially demonstrate the fact that there have been tax evasion on the part of Dr. Yunus. In many cases, during the investigations conducted by the concerned state and regulatory authorities, it has been adequately proved that Dr. Yunus himself and his entities were involved in the commission of the crime of tax evasion. Dr. Yunus and his entities filed a good number of writ petitions in the higher court to stay/suspend the proceedings of the cases of tax evasion against him and his companies. Dr. Yunus has adopted a strategy to avoid the proceedings of the tax evasion cases by way of writ petitions. Because of these writ petitions, a number other tax evasion cases against Dr. Yunus and his entities got stayed in the higher court.
Corruption and Money Laundering in Recruitment of the Consultant for Design of Social Medical Colleges and Hospitals and Health Technology Institutes
A local firm named Design Lab Architects was hired as a consultant for the construction of the Social Medical Colleges and Hospitals and Health Technology Institutes, and a contract of Taka 12,94,34,094/- was signed with the consultant
(proposal dated 05/01/2022 by Design Lab Architect). While the work was given to the local firm at the cost of about Taka 13 crore, a US company Mass Design Group Ltd was appointed for the same work and a contract for the same work at US$ 27,38,795/- + 20% enhanced fee of US$ 5,47,759/-, totaling US$ 32,86,554/- (almost 3.3 million US Dollar) agreement was made (Agenda Notes 104.10 and 104.11 of the 104th Meeting Minutes, pages 11 and 12 and Resolutions Nos. 104.10.01, 104.10.02 and 104 of the 105th Board Meeting Agenda No. 105.04 .11.01). At the same time, a law firm based in Dhaka named Yi Yi Prue was hired as a consultant for sending the money to USA at the cost of taka 38.35 lakhs.
This is a prima facie case of a serious corruption on the part of Dr. Yunus by way of giving huge amount of money to two consulting firms for the same work and also payment of taka 38.35 lakhs to a legal adviser. Sending about 3.3 million US dollars to a foreign company for the work which was given to a local firm at the cost of Taka 13 crore is undoubtedly corruption as well as money laundering. This is a punishable offence under the existing laws of Bangladesh.
Gruesome Violation of Labour Rights and Deprivation for the Employees by Dr. Yunus
In more than a hundred litigations filed by the employees and staffs of all the companies belonging to Dr. Yunus it has been prima facie established that Dr. Yunus and his companies never cared for the basic human rights of the emplyees and the fundamental principles of labour laws in Bangladesh. The labour law regime in Bangladesh is fully consistent with the international labour law standards. The employees are mostly prejudiced and deprived in each and every of his companies. In all of his institutions/companies, the employees are employed on temporary basis in direct violation of the labour law so that the employer can terminate their services at their whim and deprive them from the legal entitlements. Thus, GTC terminated all of its 99 employees in a single notice, although through the intervention of the Hon’ble High Court Division, the GTC management was subsequently compelled to reinstate them with all back wages and benefits.
The Anti-workers conduct of Dr. Yunus has further been reflected in case of workers of Grameen Communications. In that company, one Mr. Badrul Alam along with some of his colleagues formed a Trade Union and submitted an application before the concerned office for registration. Being informed about such trade union activities, Dr. Yunus most illegally terminated their services and influenced the concerned office of the Registrar of Trade Unions (Director of Labour) to cancel their application for registration of Trade Union on some illogical grounds. Furthermore, once the illegally terminated employees filed complaint to the Director General of Labour against Dr. Yunus and his management for their unfair labour practices and anti-trade union discrimination, they influenced the concerned officers and vitiated the investigation pursuant to such complaint. Since 2017, Dr. Yunus and his team left no stone unturned in his way to deprive the employees. It was mentioned in the preceding part of this paper that Dr. Yunus and his associates used illicit means to influence the labour court judges and from the presentation of the Dhaka Logistic Services (DLSS) it is clear that Dr. Yunus had bribed the chairman of the labour court to get favourable orders from the court.
Dr. Yunus’s Bribing the Labour Leaders and Lawyers
While Dr. Yunus realized that he and his company would lose the case against him and his company in the company bench of the High Court Division on the issue of liquidation of the company and paying off the employees of GTC as their legal entitlement on account of Workers Participation Fund, during pendency of the case Dr. Yunus adopted unfair means to get rid of the proceedings and immorally paid an amount of BDT 437 crores to the labour leaders and lawyers so that the labour leaders apply for non-prosecution of the case. Accordingly, the court accepted the application for non-prosecution on submission of a deed of compromise. Subsequently, it came before the notice of the court that the deed of compromise and the application for non-prosecution were procured by way of corrupt practice, i.e., bribing the concerned persons and the whole thing was performed as part of an unfair game intended to protect the illicit interests of Dr. Yunus and his companies. Dr. Yunus and his associates understood that if the case against him and his company Grameen Telecom continues in the company bench of the High Court Division continues, there would have been risks that many unpleasant information regarding transferring of dividends of grameen telecom to grameen kalyan (amounting to millions of dollar) without any lawful cause and authority and the involvement of the money laundering might be unveiled. All these might open Pandora’s box for Dr. Yunus and his associates and his real face might be exposed nationally and internationally. For this reason Dr. Yunus has paid an amount of BDT 437 crores to the labour leaders and lawyers in the name of Workers Participation Fund, although he and his companies always nakedly infringed the basic human rights of the employees under the labour laws by way of oppression and repression.
Distribution of the Assets of the GTC to any Institution of Government through Winding Up of the GTC
Alongside the above punitive proceeding, the Registrar of RJSC may, at any time, call for information or explanation as to the affairs of the GTC under section 193 of the Companies Act, 1994. And upon perusal of such information or explanation or additional document; the Registrar is of opinion that the document in question discloses an unsatisfactory state of affairs, or that it does not discloses an unsatisfactory state of affairs, or that it does not disclose a full, fair, and true, statement of the matters to which it purports to relate, the Registrar may report in writing the circumstances of the case to the government. Upon receipt of such a report from the Registrar, the Government may appoint one or more competent inspectors under section 195 of the Act to investigate the affairs of the company. Thereafter, on the basis of the report of the inspectors, the Government may require the Registrar of RJSC under section 204 to file an Application before the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh for winding up the Company. Accordingly, if the GTC is wound up none of its members will be entitled to its properties. Rather, all the properties shall be given or transferred to some other institution having objects similar to the objects of the GTC. Thus, the Government may acquire the entire property of GTC along with its 34.20% shares in the capital of Grameen Phone Limited.
Professor Dr. Mohammad Yunus's Grameen Telecom which is a shareholder of Grameenphone, has hired a lobbyist at Tk 140 million to win 107 cases lodged against it for realising Tk 3.0 billion in worker-welfare dues”. Grameen Welfare and Dhaka Logistics Firm have signed an agreement to win the cases. Mohammed Yunus himself has approved it on June 14, 2021. Dr. Yunus’s Grameen Telecom owns 34.20 percent of the mobile operating company Grameenphone.
Grameen Telecom receives a dividend of over a thousand crore Taka’s every year from Grameenphone. In 2019 alone, they received a dividend worth Taka 1,300 crore. But, Grameen Telecom never paid five percent of these dividends to the workers’ welfare fund though they had a legal obligation to share profits with its employees.
It has been accumulated to around Taka 300 crore in this way since 2006. Finding no way, the angry workers have filed a total of 107 cases seeking their arrears. On June 14, 2021, Dr. Yunus approved the agreement with Dhaka Logistics Services and Solutions in a virtual meeting to win these cases. The Grameen Telecom Workers Employees Union made the allegation against Dr. Yunu’s Grameen Telecom. “Meanwhile, union leaders have demanded the appointment of an administrator in Grameen Telecom for attempting to deprive workers and employees of their rights”.
At a press conference at the National Press Club, union leaders said Grameen Welfare and Dhaka Logistics Firm earlier signed an agreement to win the cases. Union President Kamruzzaman Apollo and General Secretary Feroze Hassan Mahmud, among others, addressed the briefing. Grameen Telecom receives more than Taka 10-billion dividend every year from Grameen Phone. The arrears have now accumulated to an estimated Taka 3.0 billion since 2006.
Finding no way out, the workers have filed a total of 107 cases seeking their arrears a few years back. It is to be noted that ten Grameen Telecom employees filed cases against Grameen Telecom and its chairman Dr. Yunus.
Nowadays people in Bangladesh termed Nobel laureate Dr. Yunus as a cheat and accused him of not giving shares of Grameen Phone profits to Grameen Bank in breach of the promise he made before setting up on the telecom company. A former chief of naval staff said Dr. Yunus had set up Grameen Phone using Bangladesh Railway’s optical fiber. Instead of taking action against petty criminals, catch him with an iron hand as he laundered thousands of crores of taka from Bangladesh.
Grameen Phone was third in the bidding process and was not supposed to get the license but he was given a license thinking that the profits would go to the poor people through Grameen Bank but unfortunately, he turned it into his personal property. He sold a good portion of the shares which ought to go to the state. He had cheated as profits of Grameen Phone were not given to Grameen Bank. During the 1998 flood, 70% of the country was under water but Grameen Bank staff tortured people for weekly installment.
Beginning on Wednesday, senior officers and civilians from the US and Bangladeshi defense establishments will gather in Dhaka for two days to assess current bilateral defense relations and discuss future goals.
The Indo-Pacific area should be free, open, tranquil, and secure, according to the shared vision of the United States and Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Armed Forces Division and Indo-Pacific Command will meet in Dhaka on August 23 and 24 to conduct the Bilateral Defense Dialogue in order to further these shared goals.
Senior military officials and citizens from the US and Bangladeshi militaries will participate in this discussion. They will talk about military education, defense news, and forthcoming military drills, like the Disaster Response Exercise & Exchange for the following year.
The conversation is a component of a more extensive connection between their defense organizations, which includes collaboration on a wide range of defense-related issues.
At the first BD-US Security Dialogue in 2012, a joint declaration between the two nations launched their defense dialogue. The tenth episode will be this one.
Brig Gen Husain Muhammad Masihur Rahman, director general of the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division, will lead the Bangladeshi side while Brig Gen Thomas J. James, director of strategic planning and policy at the US Indo-Pacific Command, will lead the US side.
The United States and Bangladesh have collaborated on a variety of security-related topics for the past 50 years, including border and maritime security, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, defense trade, and the development of defense institutions.
The US interacts with Bangladesh through a number of bilateral and multilateral fora, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the US-Bangladesh Security Dialogue, and the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue.
According to the US embassy website, the US has given Bangladesh support with $7.29 million for international military education and training (IMET) and $66.9 million in foreign military financing (FMF) since 2015. The FMF assistance consists of $56.9 million in Bay of Bengal Initiative Regional FMF and $10 million in bilateral programming.
Through the assistance of FMF, the Bay of Bengal Initiative of the Department of State aims to strengthen the ability of civilian and military actors to identify illicit activity both within and beyond their borders, to establish networks and customs of cooperation to allow nations to share information, to increase their capacity to quickly respond to illicit activity, and to assist our partners in enabling a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean Region.
These funds have been used to buy patrol boats for the Bangladesh Army, more patrol boats for the Navy and Coast Guard, MRAP vehicles for border security and international peacekeeping missions, electronic and mechanical upgrades for the fast patrol boats and ex-U.S. Coast Guard cutters now used by the Bangladesh Navy, technical and professional training for Bangladesh military and Coast Guard personnel, and joint military exercises.
Under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, the US government has $130.59 million in active government-to-government sales cases with Bangladesh. In 2013 and 2015, Bangladesh also acquired two ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton Class cutters through EDA, which are now the two biggest ships in the Bangladesh Navy.
To reinforce its forces in Mali, Bangladesh also acquired 50 EDA MRAP trucks in 2019. Through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) procedure, the US additionally sanctioned the permanent export of defense goods worth over $6 million to Bangladesh in FY2019.
Aircraft and related items, supplies, and other items, as well as fire control, laser, imaging, and guiding systems, are the three main categories of DCS to Bangladesh.
The United States has provided close to $44 million since 2005 to fund training, equipment upgrades, and facility upgrades to strengthen Bangladesh's capacity for peacekeeping.
However, the US has been working toward signing an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Bangladesh. Recently, Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen ruled on the possibility of concluding such agreements prior to the general elections.
He has previously stated, "I don't think we have the luxury of signing such types of agreements before the election." Bangladesh has expressed interest in purchasing cutting-edge equipment from the US as part of its plan to upgrade its military by 2030, thus Washington wants to sign the two defense accords.
The GSOMIA ensures that countries recognize the need of protecting classified military information and make a commitment to doing so. ACSA enables the US military and the armed forces of its allies to buy and pay for common goods and services. Everything from food, water, clothing, transportation, instruction, oil, ammo, maintenance, and medical services could be included.
Relations between the United States and Bangladesh, however, have gotten more challenging recently. Washington imposed penalties on Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and a number of its current and former officers on December 10, 2021. The US has announced a new visa policy for Bangladesh. There are several problematic ties between Bangladesh and the USA.
Among these, the defense conversation is particularly crucial. However, Washington might continue to see Dhaka as a partner in regional security. The US is currently looking to partner with Bangladesh in a strategic alliance. Defense cooperation between states may increase bilateral ties and enhance defense connections between the two countries.
Bangladesh and the USA are both vital to the region. This conveyed that while having some differences, both countries are very keen in further strengthening their bilateral ties. This could help to resolve any bilateral concerns. Bangladesh and the USA must work as dependable partners to resolve some shared concerns.
The relationship between the United States and Bangladesh is crucial for a number of reasons. In terms of security, humanitarian assistance, and the economy, Bangladesh is first and foremost a crucial regional ally for the United States. Second, in counterterrorism efforts, Bangladesh has been an important strategic partner. Last but not least, the US wants to have a robust, all-encompassing partnership with Bangladesh based on shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights (US Department of State, 2021).
Why is the US concentrating on developing closer ties with Bangladesh?
As soon as the United States formally recognized the newly constituted Bangladesh on April 4, 1972, diplomatic relations between the two nations were established. Both nations have maintained cordial ties for the last 50 years. In the last ten years, cooperation in trade, investment, and security has stepped up, with a particular emphasis on counterterrorism.
The two-way commerce increased by 12% from the previous year to $9 billion in 2019, with $2.3 billion of that amount coming from US exports to Bangladesh. At the same time, Bangladesh's exports to the US increased by 9.5% to $6.7 billion.
Bangladesh is the third-largest recipient of US aid among countries in South Asia, highlighting the importance of their bilateral relations. The US has praised Dhaka for its admirable role in providing refuge to Rohingya refugees, demonstrating its dedication to humanitarianism.
The United States' heightened focus on Bangladesh's democracy and human rights calls for investigation into the underlying causes of this current strategy. One hypothesis is that the US sees the country occupying a strategic position within its Indo-Pacific strategy.
Bangladesh is still convinced of the value of the Non-Aligned Movement. It is imperative that the US recognise Dhaka's support for Washington.
While the US contends that the acts of the Rapid Action Battalion have a negative influence on the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms, and economic advancement for the people of Bangladesh, Bangladesh claims that the US sanctions have geopolitical roots. Dhaka sees the US sanctions as a part of a larger geopolitical plan for South Asia.
While investment and sanctions continue to be Bangladesh's top priorities, the United States is concentrated on protecting its interests in the region. The US must defend its position in the Indo-Pacific in the face of continued great power rivalry. The US is planning to sign the GSOMIA and ACSA defense agreements with Bangladesh in order to accomplish this goal.
However, Dhaka's position is against signing any defense pacts before the elections, since the government's top concerns right now are development demands, as Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen remarked last week.
Both nations have been exhibiting signs of development for some time. While the US reaffirmed its commitment to working with Bangladesh to improve the human rights situation, Bangladesh established human rights cells and sent out human rights reports.
Last but not least, Bangladesh hopes to spur South Asian economic change by forming alliances with the US and the EU and cooperating to support the tenets of the Indo-Pacific strategy. If understood properly, this may result in the "revitalization of Bangladesh-US relations" in the ensuing era within this complicated international environment.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen in a statement stated "I recall with sadness the 9/11 Twin Tower devastation, in which 2,988 innocent people lost their lives, of which 6 were from Bangladesh and 3 were from my own district, Sylhet. While we pray for their salvation, we hope that such will never reoccur again.
In 1997 when Dr. Yunus received license of Grameen Telecom (hereinafter referred to as “GTC”) from the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he gave commitment that GTC would work only for the welfare and betterment of the poor people. Unfortunately, after taking the license, he thought only for his own interest and handed over the lion portion of shares of Grameen Phone Limited to the foreign company.
Professor Dr. Mohammad Yunus's Grameen Telecom which is a shareholder of Grameenphone, has hired a lobbyist at Tk 140 million to win 107 cases lodged against it for realising Tk 3.0 billion in worker-welfare dues”. Grameen Welfare and Dhaka Logistics Firm have signed an agreement to win the cases. Mohammed Yunus himself has approved it on June 14, 2021. Dr. Yunus’s Grameen Telecom owns 34.20 percent of the mobile operating company Grameenphone