On 9 September 2013 various national dailies and online news media published reports stating that it was decided at a government cabinet meeting that legal action would be taken against Dr. Muhammad Yunus for issues relating to his foreign earnings and for alleged tax evasion.
The NBR has not stated that the Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has ‘evaded’ tax. It mentions that he asked for an income-tax exemption, which the NBR in turn had granted him under the provision of the existing laws. There was therefore no legal violation in this regard.
The NBR in their statement mentions that according to the Supreme Court verdict Professor Yunus is a public servant. As such, he needs to inform the government of any earnings, awards and travels to foreign countries. They state that he has not done so, and has therefore broken the law.
The Supreme Court verdict did state that Professor Yunus is a public servant. The verdict also stated that Professor Yunus remained as Managing Director of Grameen Bank illegally for 11 years from 2000 to 2011. It said that he did not have the right to remain as Managing Director during this period. NBR has stated that the amount he has earned as salaries and allowances during this periods needs to be returned. So according to the Supreme Court verdict, he was no longer a public servant since 2000.
If he is no longer a public servant since 2000, then the question of his seeking permission from the government for accepting income from abroad does not arise. The law that is applied on a private citizen would also be applied to him. There remains therefore no basis for the allegations brought by the NBR.
The Grameen Bank is established under a special law. Under this law, the board of directors is the supreme decision making authority of the Bank. Whatever Professor Yunus has done, he has done with the permission and approval of this board of directors. There was never any question of taking permission from the government. He did not break any laws while carrying out his responsibilities.
The sources for Professor Yunus' foreign earnings are lectures, royalties from books and awards which are considered tax-free, according to the prevailing laws, when brought in through proper banking channels.
Professor Yunus has always brought in his foreign earnings through proper banking channels, and every year when submitting his tax returns has presented all his income to NBR and paid in full all applicable taxes.
At the time of submitting his returns, he declared all his local and foreign income. It is the responsibility of those who set taxes to decide what is tax-free and what is taxable income. The tax authorities never raised any questions nor did the NBR ever sent him any notices or letters in this regard.