E-commerce platform Evaly has sought six months from the commerce ministry for explaining how it will meet its current liabilities to customers and merchants.
In reply to a letter, Evaly informed the ministry about signing a Tk1,000 crore investment deal, of which, it will get Tk200 crore initially. But it did not mention the investor's name – Jamuna Group – in the letter submitted on 1 August. There is even no mention of when the investment would be made too.
When contacted, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told The Business Standard on Monday, "Evaly sent a letter to the ministry on Sunday. I will read it on Tuesday. We will take the next step after reviewing it on the basis of the existing laws of the country."
On July 19, the commerce ministry sent a letter to Evaly, asking it to explain how it would clear its current liabilities to customers and merchants.
The ministry had given Evaly 10 days to provide some general information like a total amount it took from customers in advance and how much it paid to merchants from the money as of 15 July. Such data is supposed to be automatically stored in an e-commerce company's database.
But the e-commerce platform did not disclose any such information after 10 days.The ministry also wanted to know about its liabilities to customers and merchants and its future plan for supplying products against which it received advance money from customers, but the e-commerce company did not say anything about it as well.
Seeking anonymity, a commerce ministry official told TBS, "The information we sought from Evaly should be available in its database. We think Evaly did not provide such information purposefully. If it takes six months to give information on its debts, when will it clear the liabilities?"
He said Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh is now abroad. As soon as he returns to the country, a meeting will be held and a committee will be formed to decide what to do about Evaly. The ministry will take the next step as per the recommendation of the committee.
When asked why he did not provide any information to the commerce ministry, Mohammad Rassel, managing director of Evaly, told TBS, "We have taken an initiative to determine our liabilities and the valuation of our company by appointing an external auditor. An audited report will be much more acceptable."
Replying to another question, he said, "We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Jamuna Group. There is some more paperwork left to start the investment process. We have just informed the ministry about the investment."
According to the central bank's inspection report, as of 14 March, Evaly's liabilities to customers and merchants had risen to around Tk404 crore, while its current asset is only Tk65 crore, meaning that it would be possible to pay off only 16% of Evaly's debts by selling its assets.
Evaly in its reply letter also said it will make efforts to gradually complete its pending deliveries and will send a progress report to the commerce ministry twice a month. But, the ministry did not seek any such information.
Evaly did not provide any information on how much money it has so far paid to merchants. But in an interview with TBS and on a Facebook page live, Rassel said the company has so far paid off Tk6,000 crore to merchants.
"Accurately determining the amount of liabilities to more than 5,000 merchants is a time consuming process as there are so many issues related to it, such as checking the current status of deliveries against each merchant's orders, verifying customers' receipts of products, resolving complaints about defective products, adjusting previous bills and so on," Evaly said.