TK 1,100cr Eorange Scam: Blame-shifting fails
The truth always comes out, and this is what the top brass of Eorange, one of the many Evaly imitations, has found out recently.
When the walls were closing in on the crafty e-commerce platform following the avalanche of customer and vendor complaints about unfulfilled orders and dues amounting to Tk 1,100 crore, it conveniently passed the blame on to its former chief operating officer, seven vendors and three others.
Eorange, where absconding police inspector Sohel Rana is a director, claimed the 11 had embezzled Tk 663 crore, due to which the customers could not get their products or their refunds and the merchants could not get their dues.
But after primary investigation, the detectives have found out that they have been wrongfully accused.
On August 12, Md Amanullah Chowdhury, who became Eorange's COO in July, filed a case with the Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station against Md Nazmul Alam Russel, the former COO of the two-year-old e-commerce platform, seven vendors and three others.
Between January and June, Russel had purchased 36,281 motorcycles with Tk 663.49 crore of different brands from seven vendors on behalf of the company, according to the case statement.
The vendors were paid through wire transfer from two bank accounts of the e-commerce platform, which came to the public's reckoning over dizzying offers on motorcycles. But Russel never furnished any invoice against the payments, according to Eorange.
In other words, Chowdhury said Rassel in connivance with the vendors had embezzled the sum from the e-commerce platform by providing fake customers.
The other accused are Sultan Uddin, Mahadi Hasan, Partha Pratim Roy, Mahadi Abid, Tanvir Hasan, Akbar Md. Fahim, Shahnaj Parveen Keya, and Russel's father Khalilur Rahman, wife Faria Subha and brother Manjurul Alam Parvez.
Weeks after an investigation into the case, the detectives have found that the charges brought by the complainant are not true.
"We have checked the sales invoices and bank documents. Those proved the charges brought by the complainant is fake," an officer of Tejgaon Division's Detective Branch told The Daily Star requesting anonymity as the case is still under investigation.
The vendors also furnished proof of delivery of the products to the Eorange customers, who also confirmed receiving the motorcycles.
Besides, the Eorange database also shows that almost all the motorcycles have been delivered, the officer said.
"Amanullah was ordered by the Eorange management to file the case -- this was just a tactic to divert the attention of the protesting customers," he added.
Russel, who is said to have left Eorange in April, was arrested over the case and is still behind the bars.
Contacted, Wahidul Islam, deputy commissioner of DB Tejgaon Division, said: "We are looking into the case -- we will ensure a fair investigation."
Meanwhile, one of the seven vendors, Bajaj Collection, a sales agent of Indian two-wheeler and three-wheeler giant Bajaj Auto, is yet to receive payment of Tk 2.48 crore for its last fulfilled order.
"We are innocent -- we have been implicated as part of a conspiracy by the Eorange management," Masud Alam, manager of the store in the capital's Mohammadpur.
The store became a vendor of Eorange in December last year.
The business relationship was coasting along nicely until June, when a cheque provided by Eorange for an order bounced.
The order was placed in May by Sonia Mehjabin, the chairman of Eorange, and all but 27 of the motorcycles were delivered in June.
The 27 motorcycles remained undelivered as the customers did not turn up to take their delivery. "And this was updated on Eorange's database, too," Alam said.
Bajaj Collection's cheque bounced around the time when aggrieved customers of Eorange began to pepper the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection with complaints about unfulfilled orders for which they had made payments.
Between July and August, 2,500 complaints were lodged, and in August, many customers staged demonstrations in front of its office for refunds or products.
Finally, on August 16, an aggrieved customer Abu Taher filed a case on behalf of 37 customers with Gulshan Police Station against the owners and staff of Eorange over embezzlement of about Tk 1,100 crore.
The accused include Mehjabin; her husband Masukur Rahman, who is the chief executive officer of Eorange; Chowdhury; Bithi Akter, the wife of Rana; Kausar.
The following day, Mehjabin and Rahman surrendered to the police, while Chowdhury was arrested from the capital's Gulshan two days later.
Later, another victim filed a case against Rana, an inspector of the investigation department of Banani Police Station and a director of the e-commerce platform, and nine others with a Dhaka court.
Following a travel ban issued by a court against Rana, he tried to flee the country, but India's Border Security Force detained him from Changrabandha border area in Cooch Behar district in India on September 3.
In another development yesterday, an aggrieved customer Nasim Prodhan on behalf of 26 other victims sued Mehjabin, Rana, Rahman, Akter, Chowdhury, Russel and Mohammad Zayedul Firoz, Eorange's director for HR and admin, for embezzling about Tk 9.54 crore from them.
Prodhan filed the case with the court of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Morshed Al Mamun Bhuiyan.
The magistrate took cognisance of the case, recorded the complainant's statements and directed the officer-in-charge of Gulshan Police Station to register the complaint as a regular case.
Meanwhile, an investigation report by one of the law enforcement agencies found that Eorange's two bank accounts have been drained, with no trail of where the money went.