Was given until August 1 to send a written explanation to the commerce secretary in this regard
Digital marketplace Evaly has sought six months from the Ministry of Commerce to come up with a proper explanation as to how it will settle its liabilities to customers and merchants alike.
Their request was sent as a reply to a previous letter sent by the ministry to Evaly about the matter on July 19.
Evaly was given until August 1 to send a written explanation to the commerce secretary in this regard.
The e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) confirmed this to the Dhaka Tribune.
Sahab Uddin Shipon, vice-president of e-CAB, said that Evaly has already replied to the letters issued by the regulatory bodies, and a decision will be taken on the matter after the evaluation of their response.
Both the Commerce Ministry and e-CAB had sought explanations from Evaly but on different matters.
While e-CAB had sought an explanation on why it should not cancel its membership with the association, the ministry sought an explanation on its liabilities.
"However, it sought six months from the ministry, and three months from us,” said the e-CAB VP.
Additionally, Evaly also committed to sending two status reports each month about their pending deliveries, while highlighting the matter of scoring a Tk1,000 crore investment it had received.
However, it did not mention the name of Jamuna Group as its investor, from which Evaly will be apparently receiving Tk 200 Crore initial investment, in an announcement made on July 27.
When contacted, Mohammad Rassel, founder and CEO of Evaly, declined to comment on the matter.
Asked about why Jamuna Group decided to invest in a controversial platform, its Group Director Monika Islam told Dhaka Tribune: “Our analysis prior to the investment discovered that there have been issues with fund management. The subsidization of products for market access and its mismanagement was the issue and they only needed an investor."
“In terms of the business model, every e-commerce platform has to abide by the SOP that has been introduced by the Commerce Ministry. We have faith that Evaly has honest business intentions to materialize the Digital Bangladesh vision and take the country's e-commerce sector forward. E-commerce is the future and investing in the local e-commerce sector and its consumers is our goal,” she added.
However, there has been suspicion regarding the nature of the investment, although investors, brands, and merchants have been found to vouch for the platform amid a wave of allegations and complaints.
For instance, Md Sirajul Islam, executive director of Walton Group and head of Division of Walton Corporate Sales, told Dhaka Tribune: “We have a good business relationship with Evaly and a good quantity of orders is coming through them. Our transactions with them have been fair so far.”
However, speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Barrister Tanjib Ul Alam said that the only option for Evaly to survive is to inject fresh capital.
What Jamuna Group has offered is actually not fresh capital. It has just converted its unpaid invoices into equity. It is another ploy to stay afloat and grab more money from the public, he added.
Jamuna Group did not say that they are injecting Tk200 crore as fresh capital. Even if they inject fresh capital in the form of cash, that amount is a drop in the ocean of dual debt, unpaid invoices to vendors, and non-delivery of goods. Evaly will be better off if it returns money to their customers rather than supplying those goods, he further said.
In an inspection report submitted to the Commerce Ministry in June, Bangladesh Bank said Evaly's total liabilities stood at Tk407.18 crore. After receiving Tk213.94 crore in advance from customers and Tk189.85 crore from merchants, the company was expected to have at least Tk403.80 crore in current assets, but it only had Tk65.17 crore.
On July 17, Several banks including Brac Bank, Bank Asia, Dhaka Bank, City Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Prime Bank also suspended their transactions with Evaly following the Bangladesh Bank report.
Following the report, the Ministry of Commerce asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to file a case against Evaly over the alleged embezzlement of Tk338 crore owed to merchants, which was taken as an advance from customers.
On the same day, Evaly Managing Director Mohammad Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin, the chairman of the e-commerce firm, were barred from traveling abroad by a Dhaka court.
The ministry also separately wrote to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to initiate relevant legal actions against the online marketplace over the reported irregularities.
The Commerce Ministry also issued operational guidelines for the e-commerce sector in response to the growing impact of digital platforms on the current economic progress of the country and the challenges posed by them.