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Will Evaly customers get their money back?

18 September 2021

Syed Shemul Parvez  :
Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Evaly couple Mohammad Rassel, and Shamima Nasrin in a raid at their Mohammadpur residence in the capital on Thursday afternoon.
The elite force, RAB, came up with the action after an Evaly customer named Arif Baker brought charges of fraud and issuance of death threats against the couple in a case filed with the Gulshan Police Station.
The online marketplace Evaly owes more than Tk 1,000 crore to its customers and suppliers, claims Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Evaly CEO Mohammad Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin, Chairperson of the e-commerce platform, were unable to provide any plans or ways to clear the debt, RAB spokesperson Commander Khandaker Al Moin told a press conference on Friday.
Evaly started its journey in 2018. The company quickly gets acquainted with the customers by offering lucrative discounts and cashback. But it came to the top of criticism on various allegations including not delivering the product on time.
It is learned that more than 5000 complaints have been lodged against Evaly with the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate. Most of these
complaints are  'not getting the products for a long time despite paying full money'. Bangladesh Bank has also brought charges of embezzlement and money laundering against the company.
Besides, about Tk 339 crore taken by Evaly from the customers could not be found in the investigation of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), sources said.
A central bank probe report on the rouge e-commerce platform raised suspicion of  diverting the found elsewhere.
But now questions have arisen that will the victims of Evaly get their money back?
It is also known that Evaly has more than 37 lakh registered customers. They have suffered in many ways. However, the company's managing director Mohammad Russell told the Ministry of Commerce that Evaly has 2,08000 customers and it owes Tk 311 crore to the customers.
Besides, till July 15, the amount of debt owed to merchants was about Tk 205.86 crore.
About 25,000 vendors in the country were associated with the Evaly.
Sources said that Evaly has been doing business with an unusual offer of a refund whenever customer bought a product.
The company, which offered cashback of 100 to 150 per cent, assuring that if you buy a product worth Tk 100, you will get a refund of the same amount or more. People were also attracted by various tempting offers including 'Cyclone', 'Thunderstorm', 'Earthquake'. Unusual discounts offer were given. While some customers benefit, most are uncertain about refunds.
Even Jamuna, one of the leading industrial groups in the country, has announced that it will invest thousands of crores of taka in Evaly. But recently the group moved away from the decision.
The Home Ministry has found evidence of eight types of fraud against Evaly.
A probe body of the police headquarters formed under the directive by the Home Ministry has found the truth of various irregularities. The investigation found that the ordered goods were not delivered on time, did not maintain proper communication with the customers, failed to deliver the goods but did not return the money, Ministry sources added.
Apart from this, the report also mentioned that cheap and low quality products have been supplied to the customers frequently from Evaly.
It is learned that less than two years after the launch of Evaly, the company has sold products worth Tk 1,500 crore under various strategies. But the paid up capital of the company is only one crore taka.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said that not only fraud but also money laundering charges have been brought against Evaly.
He said that according to the law, the smuggled money should be brought back and the culprits should be given exemplary punishment.
In this context, the Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh Ahsan H. Mansoor said, "What Evaly has done is fry the using fish's own oil. This kind of business does not last at the end. The way Evaly has done business; there is almost no chance for the affected customers to get their capital back."
"Evaly has done two losses-first, the loss of the customer. Second, people's confidence on e-ecommerce is eroded. From now on, people will not trust any local e-commerce platform," he added.
"This will pave the opportunity of foreign companies to come and do business according to the rules. Later, no new institution will be able to stand in the country under their power," he further added.
Meanwhile, a group of merchants and customers of the e-commerce platform Evaly on Friday demanded unconditional release of Mohammad Rassel, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.
They held a human chain program in the capital's Shahbagh area in the afternoon and chanted slogans.
During the protest, they alleged that the case filed against Rassel was meant to harass him and destroy the e-commerce business in Bangladesh.

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