The High Court (HC) on Wednesday imposed a moratorium on the sale or transfer of all movable and immovable property of scam-tainted e-commerce company Evaly.
Responding to a petition filed by disgruntled customer Farhad Hossain, the HC bench of Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar also issued a rule asking why a liquidator should not be appointed to wind down Evaly.
Evaly Limited, registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, Consumer Rights Protection Bureau, mobile financial service provider Nagad and bKash, Bangladesh Competition Commission, E-Cab Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, the Bangladesh Bank, and the commerce secretary, have been made respondents to the rule and tasked to implement the court order.
"Farhad Hossain ordered a washing machine from Evaly ten months ago and paid in advance," Barrister Sayed Mahsib Hossain, a lawyer who argued for the petitioner, told the media.
The company then gave him a receipt against the order. He was repeatedly assured of the washing machine when he contacted the company for it, Evaly having missed the delivery deadline. But the customer never got the product nor was the payment refunded, the lawyer said.
The customer demanded the refund from the proceeds of liquidation of Evaly property, added the lawyer.
The HC has set 30 September for the next hearing, and the defendants have been asked to respond within this time.
According to Evaly's own assessment, it has assets amounting to Tk121 crore, while they owe more than Tk1,000 crore to customers and merchants.
The company took money in advance payments, luring people with heavy discounts on products on its site and promising delivery within 7-45 days. However, many buyers are yet to receive the items they ordered.
The refund cheques given to customers also bounced because of insufficient funds in Evaly's bank account.
Multiple cases have been filed against Evaly CEO Mohammad Rassel, and his wife, company Chairman Shamima Nasrin, on allegations of embezzlement and cheque fraud. On 16 September, the couple was arrested.
Writ seeking refunds for customers
In a separate development, a writ petition was filed with the HC on Wednesday seeking directives for a judicial inquiry into the fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering by rogue e-commerce companies.
The writ petition has also sought HC directives to identify rogue e-commerce platforms, trace down their owners, take action against them, and take steps to refund aggrieved customers.
Supreme Court lawyers Mohammad Humayun Kabir Pallab and Barrister Mohammed Kawsar, filed the writ petition on behalf of two disgruntled e-commerce customers.
Some 18 top public officials including the commerce secretary, finance secretary, and the posts and telecommunications secretary have been made defendants to the writ.
The two lawyers said they filed the writ as the defendants did not respond to an earlier legal notice in this regard.
The writ petition called for a judicial inquiry committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to identify those whose negligence led to several lakhs of customers losing their investments, and for legal action to be taken.