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US lawmakers urge independence for Bangladesh bank

August 14, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thirty-two U.S. lawmakers have urged Bangladesh to preserve the independence of the Nobel Prize-winning Grameen Bank, saying changes proposed by a government-appointed commission would be “disastrous.”

The senators and House representatives, mostly Democrats, publicized their letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday.

They lauded the micro-lender for helping hoist millions from poverty, and said commission recommendations if implemented would disenfranchise 5 million borrower-shareholders and dismiss borrowers on the board of directors, replacing them with government officials. It would also give the government a majority stake in the bank.

The commission was formed after the May 2011 ouster of Grameen’s founder, Muhammad Yunus, which drew international criticism. Yunus has frosty relations with Hasina.

The commission’s final report has not yet been released.

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