Evaly office to stay shut
The office of controversial e-commerce platform Evaly will remain shut until further notice as aggrieved customers and sellers continue to flock to the premises demanding their goods or refund.
"The office will reopen with permission following the completion of investigation by authorities," read a notice hung at the entrance of the Evaly headquarters on Dhanmondi road 14.
However, Evaly, in a post on its official Facebook page, wrote that its employees will work from home until further notice.
All Evaly activities will continue as usual under the arrangement, it said.
The company's Vice President Mahdi Chowdhury's mobile phone was found switched off when the correspondent tried to contact him.
On Friday, another notice was published on their Facebook page that said Evaly's normal delivery activities were being delayed in the absence of Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Rassel and Chairperson Shamima Nasrin.
The two were arrested the previous day by the Rapid Action Battalion on charges of embezzlement of hundreds of crores of taka. They have been placed on three-day remands each on Friday.
"In the absence of our two main signatories -- the honourable CEO and the chairman -- we are unable to pay regular bills to our sellers," the notice read, adding that all orders made for the T10 campaign on their website will be saved as "requests" from Saturday.
Meanwhile, many customers were seen crowding in front of the office for their goods and money yesterday.
Masood Parvez, a driver by profession, said he ordered a motorcycle worth Tk 1.16 lakh in January.
The bike was supposed to be delivered within three months. But until yesterday, he neither received the motorcycle nor a refund, he said.
"It was my hard-earned money. It was a poor man's money. If I don't get it back, it will be a great loss," Masood said.
Many demanded that the government take measures to return their money even if the MD and chairman have to be released for that.
Later in the evening, a group of sellers and customers staged a protest in front of the Evaly headquarters demanding the release of Rassel and his wife Nasrin.
They urged the government to release the two so that Evaly can run the business and pay back the amount they owe to the customers and sellers.
Contacted, Newton Das, assistant commissioner of Gulshan Division Police, said they were interrogating the Evaly CEO and chairman and wanted to know where all the money has gone.
They furthered interrogated them about the company's establishment, its business policy, its liabilities to customers and sellers and whether they have siphoned off any money, Das added.
Stern action will be taken against e-commerce firms like Evaly and Eorange, said AKM Hafiz Akhter, additional commissioner (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, at a press briefing yesterday.
"There are many organisations which are involved in fraudulent activities like Evaly and E-orange. They are involved in cheating customers through offers lower than the market prices. Investigations are on and action will be taken after investigation," he added.
DHAMAKA SHOPPING SELLERS WARN OF LEGAL ACTION
Meanwhile, aggrieved merchants of another controversial e-commerce platform Dhamaka Shopping warned of legal action if their dues amounting to about Tk 200 crore are not cleared at the earliest.
As per the agreement with Invariant Telecom Bangladesh, Dhamaka Shopping's parent company, the vendors were supposed to get their payment within 10 working days of supplying the merchandise.
"But sadly, those 10 days have now become 160 working days," said Jahangir Alam Emon, president of the Dhamakashopping.com Sellers Association, at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
As many as 650 entrepreneurs had been supplying 2,000 types of products to the e-commerce platform set up in November last year modelled on Evaly: offer implausible discounts on products with advance payment and advertise heavily.
Dhamaka Shopping hit choppy waters in July after a deluge of customer complaints about undelivered products with the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection.
This led to an investigation into the company by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police.
Dhamaka's customers are yet to receive products worth Tk 100 crore, according to Emon.
In its preliminary investigation, the CID found evidence of money laundering to the tune of Tk 50 crore by the Dhamaka top brass and asked the Bangladesh Bank to freeze their bank accounts.
Meanwhile, several banks and mobile financial services provider bKash severed its payment gateway with Dhamaka with their view to protecting their customers.
Then on September 9, the CID sued Dhamaka Shopping Managing Director Jasim Uddin Chisti, his wife, their children, a director of the company and four other organisations for laundering about Tk 117 crore.
Despite repeated requests, the Dhamaka Shopping authorities are not cooperating with the sellers, Emon said.
"As young and SME traders, we have been running our business by borrowing money from relatives and banks. Now, we are on our way to going broke," said Baharul Alam, joint general secretary of the platform.
Between July and September, the merchants had sought the help of various ministries and the central bank in getting their dues.
"But the efforts were in vain," said Alam, also the vice-president of the forum.
The government should take the necessary steps to refund the dues to sellers and provide goods to customers.
"If the problem is not solved, we will take legal actions," he added.