Grameen Bank accused of 'flouting regulations'

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Microfinance lender Grameen Bank has come under renewed criticism, with a Bangladeshi government inquiry accusing it of violating its own regulations. The bank has been accused in the past of financial irregularities and charging excessive interest on loans for poorer Bangladeshis.

The chief investigator of the inquiry said that "Grameen Bank and its sister organisations [needed] to be redefined and restructured" and "[needed] a new legal framework"; the investigation also stated that Grameen Bank's management had a "large-scale trend [of flouting] rules and regulations".

The probe was launched following a Norwegian documentary which claimed $96 million (65 million euros) of aid from the Norwegian government - to help provide small loans to Bangladesh's poorest - was redistributed to other companies of the Grameen Group.

A separate government investigation on Monday cleared head of the bank Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus of accusations of fraud relating to the aid Grameen Bank had received from Norway in the 1990s. Dr Yunus was fired from Grameen Bank in March 2011 after failing to seek bank approval when he was reappointed as managing director in 1999.