Liabilities transfer was Evaly trick
Amidst crushing liabilities of Evaly, its CEO Mohammad Rassel was eyeing two possible escape routes: Either sell Evaly to a foreign investor or file for bankruptcy.
Commander Khandaker Al Moin, Rab's legal and media wing director, told a press briefing yesterday that Rassel planned to get the controversial e-commerce company enlisted in the stock market at the end of the third year of its operation so as to be able to put some of the liabilities on the market.
The company's expenditures were borne from the money paid by the shoppers, Moin said. "As a result, the liabilities started to increase gradually."
Since they were arrested on Thursday evening, Rassel and his wife Evaly Chairman Shamima Nasrin told investigators that the company's total liability was over Tk 1,000 crore.
A Rab official, wishing not to be named, said Evaly owes four of the country's largest companies over Tk 200 crore. There are a host of other businesses waiting for payment of their supplied goods.
"Rassel was planning to file for bankruptcy if the company failed to clear the debts," Moin said.
"There was only Tk 30 lakh in the bank accounts of Evaly. Besides this, Tk 30-35 crore paid by the shoppers was with several online payment gateways."
Asked how customers and vendors will get their money back, the Rab director said it was for the government agencies concerned to decide.
In late June, the government ordered that payment gateways would not pay the e-commerce companies until the consumers get their deliveries.
According to Rab, Rassel owns properties and assets in Savar.
As of February 28, the liabilities of Evaly stood at Tk 403 crore, the company was worth Tk 65 crore, the amount shoppers paid to it was Tk 214 crore, and payment of Tk 190 crore to individuals and businesses was due, said the Rab official.
The Rab official said Evaly has been making losses since its inception in December 2018.
Rassel and Nasrin told officers that they failed to come up with a plan on how to clear the debts to their customers and suppliers.
"Since February, Evaly has not been able to deliver any large [expensive] product to any customer. Rassel has a marketing policy... He wanted everyone in South Asia to know Evaly's name. He wanted to create a brand value. People know him… He ran campaigns and sponsored [others] with the hard-earned money of his customers."
Moin ruled out the likelihood of any influential individual patronising Rassel.
Rassel often went live on Facebook asking for time to refund the customers as a ploy to deceive people until he filed for bankruptcy.
Evaly's has over Tk 44 lakh customers, he added.
The company made a very little investment as its strategy was to extract a large sum of money from the suppliers and the consumers. They lured the customers with impressive discounts and cashback offers in campaigns titled Earthquake, Cyclone, Priority Store, T-10, and T-5.
A Rab official said the couple bought a Range Rover and an Audi for personal use and each withdrew Tk 5 lakh in salaries. The source of the money was individuals who paid for the goods.
The company's CSR programmes and promotional activities were also run with the money of the people who thought they were paying for products.
"Evaly's debts are increasing by crores every day," Moin said.
Conglomerates at home and abroad didn't invest in Evaly because they saw no way out for the company, he added.
Rassel started several other e-commerce platforms like E-food, E-khata, and E-bazar.
During primary interrogation, Rassel and Nasrin told Rab that the Evaly head office and customer care in Dhanmondi and two warehouses in Amin Bazar and Savar were set up in rented space.
The company at one stage had about 2,000 permanent and 1,700 temporary employees. The numbers have come down to 1,300 and 500. It once paid Tk 5 crore in salaries each month. The current amount is Tk 1.5 crore. Besides, many employees have not been paid since June.
A Dhaka court yesterday placed Rassel and Nasrin on a three-day remand each.
Rassel and Nasrin were arrested in their Mohammadpur apartment on Thursday on charges of embezzlement as thousands of consumers worry if they would get back their money or the products they had paid for.
The arrests happened hours after Arif Baker, an aggrieved consumer, accused Rassel, Nasrin and several unnamed individuals involved in the company's finance management of embezzlement in a case filed with Gulshan Police Station.
The e-commerce company disrupted Bangladesh's e-commerce landscape after its launch on December 16, 2018, with lucrative discounts on different goods. It began to face investigations amid allegations of delayed delivery of goods despite receiving payments.