Evaly’s CEO and Managing Director Mohammad Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin, who is also chairman of the controversial e-commerce platform, told the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that the total amount of Evaly’s liabilities is more than Tk 1,000 crore.
Legal and Media wing director of RAB Khandaker Al Moin revealed the information at a press conference in the capital on Friday (September 17).
According to the RAB official, the CEO and chairman of the e-commerce site admitted during primary interrogation that they have not been able to come up with any definitive plan to clear the liabilities to their customers and suppliers. Rassel was planning to file for bankruptcy if the company fails to clear its financial obligations amid allegations of embezzlement. He 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.
“Rassel also planned to list the company and push its liabilities to the stock market at the end of its third year in business,” said Khandaker Al Moin.
He also said, “The authorities concerned are monitoring the issue. We hope that the Evaly customers will get back their money.”
The RAB detained Rassel and Nasrin on Thursday following a raid at their flat at Mohammadpur in Dhaka. The raid came hours after one Arif Baker brought charges of fraud and issuance of death threats against Rassel and Nasrin in a case filed with Gulshan Police Station in the capital.
After the arrest, the husband and wife were interrogated at the RAB headquarters. They were handed over to Gulshan Police after the press conference held on Friday noon.
Later in the afternoon, police produced Rassel and his wife before a Dhaka court with a 10-day remand plea. Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Atikul Islam placed them on a three-day remand each in a case filed for embezzlement of money.
Arif Baker in his case brought the charges of fraud and issuance of death threats against Rassel and Nasrin. He claimed that he saw Evaly’s advertise and made orders worth Tk 310,000 from the site. The orders have yet to be fulfilled, long after they were made. He contacted the Evaly offices and its CEO over the purchases and he responded with death threats, ‘frightening’ the man, according to the police.
Evaly’s system, which thrived on stupendous cashback offers, came under scrutiny after the Commerce Ministry and Bangladesh Bank opened a probe into their activities and found a significant amount of embezzlement.
The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) is also investigating claims from the ministry that Evaly misappropriated Tk 3.38 billion from customers and merchants, and began investigations on July 8.
Meanwhile, the court on July 15 ordered the travel ban on Rassel and his wife, following a plea from the ACC on July 9.
Several banks, including BRAC Bank, Bank Asia, Dhaka Bank, City Bank, Mutual Trust Bank and Prime Bank have already suspended transactions with Evaly.
Rassel used to teach at a tuition centre from 2009 to 2013. Later, he started work in a bank, according to the RAB. Then in 2017, he left the job and launched his own business, selling child products.
According to RAB, Rassel earned Tk 10 million from the business and initiated the Evaly platform with that meagre amount. As part of a marketing policy, he used to maintain friendly relations with influential people. Both Rassel and his wife used to draw a salary of Tk 500,000 and drove a Range Rover and an Audi car at company expense. Rassel owns property worth millions in Savar.
Rassel and Nasrin were first sued over fraud and harassment on August 25, but complaints against the ecommerce platform had been making the rounds on social media long before.