Mohammad Rassel, the embattled MD of e-commerce platform Evaly, was planning to file for bankruptcy if the company failed to clear its financial obligations amid allegations of embezzlement, according to the Rapid Action Batallion.
Rassel was also seeking to enhance Evaly’s ‘brand value’ by building a large customer base with an eye on selling the business, with all its liabilities, to a foreign company, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, director of the RAB’s law and media wing, told reporters on Friday.
“He also planned to list the company and push its liabilities to the stock market at the end of its third year in business.”
RAB arrested Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin, also the chairman of the company, on Thursday in connection with a lawsuit filed by a customer alleging fraud. They were later interrogated at the RAB headquarters.
“Even though a report found Evaly to be Tk 4.03 billion in debt until Feb 28, he (Rassel) said the liabilities amounted to Tk 10 billion during the preliminary interrogation,” said Moin.
Rassel and his wife were handed over to Gulshan police after the media briefing.
A man named Arif Baker filed the case claiming that he saw Evaly’s advertising and made orders worth Tk 310,000 from the site. The orders have yet to be fulfilled, long after they were made.
Baker contacted the Evaly offices and its CEO over the purchases and he responded with death threats, “frightening” the man, according to the police.
During the raid, about 50 people, identifying themselves as Evaly clients, demonstrated outside Rassel’s home demanding his release.
They said the law enforcers should not have arrested him because he had sought time to deliver their products and the customers would have benefitted had he been given the time. Since its inception in 2018, Evaly has faced a debt of Tk 5.43 billion to its suppliers and customers.
Evaly’s system, which thrived on stupendous cashback offers, came under scrutiny after the Ministry of Commerce and Bangladesh Bank opened a probe into their workings and found a significant amount of embezzlement.
Evaly appeared to be lying low after the government announced new steps to regulate digital marketplaces, leaving scores of disgruntled customers in the lurch.
The Anti-Corruption Commission is also investigating claims from the commerce ministry that Evaly misappropriated Tk 3.38 billion from customers and merchants, and began investigations on Jul 8.
The court, on Jul 15, ordered a travel ban on Rassel and his wife, following a plea from the anti-graft watchdog on Jul 9.