• Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Another bad day for the e-commerce sector

  • Published at 03:29 pm August 26th, 2021
Photo: Bigstock

Eorange, which had been down on its luck for the last two weeks after getting sued by disgruntled customers and its owners being sent to jail, was sued again on Thursday

Mired in controversy for the past few months, the e-commerce industry ended the week on a bad note as the authorities took various actions against five online shops on Thursday.  

Eorange, which had been down on its luck for the last two weeks after getting sued by disgruntled customers and its owners being sent to jail, was sued again on Thursday, but this time by a government agency.

The VAT Intelligence Division filed a case against eorange for evading VAT worth Tk13 lakh. 

Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, VAT Intelligence Division Director General Moinul Khan said: “We have been conducting an investigation into eorange’s VAT evasion for a long time now. After confirmation, we sent them a letter, asking them to explain themselves.

“Since they did not respond to our letter, we took the decision of filing a case against them,” he added. 

Also Read - Eorange sued for VAT evasion worth 13L

The case report has already been sent to Dhaka North Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate for further development. 

According to documents, after selling products worth Tk245.75 crore and receiving commissions worth Tk3.4 crore, eorange was supposed to pay Tk19.39 lakh as VAT. 

But it only paid Tk6.23 lakh. 

During the investigation, the agency noticed that eorange hid the actual sales information and evaded VAT worth Tk13.16 lakh — a violation of the VAT law.

Adding insult to the myriad of injuries, the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) also decided to suspend the membership of eorange on the same day.

Shahab Uddin, vice president of e-CAB, said: "We have been receiving several complaints against the platform, along with others. We have suspended the membership of numerous organizations including eorange, following complaints. 

“We have issued explanation letters to at least nine platforms out of which the memberships of four have been suspended as their answers were not satisfactory,” he added. 

The other three online shops are Twenty-Four Ticket Dotcom, Green Bangla E-Commerce Limited and Excellent World Agro Food and Consumer Limited. 

Complaints against the companies include embezzlement, non-settlement of complaints from buyers and suppliers, non-response to e-CAB warning letters, non-resolution of complaints sent by e-CAB, non-compliance with the Digital Commerce Guidelines 2021, and having a multi-level marketing (MLM) structured business.

Earlier, e-CAB had issued show-cause notices to 16 companies in response to complaints from consumers and vendors.

Nine of those organizations denied the allegations against them while some sought time with a commitment to resolve grievances and comply with the new regulations soon.

Meanwhile, owners of Evaly — the online platform that sparked off the controversy in the sector — are now being investigated by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU).

This comes just a day after Evaly Managing Director Mohammad Rassel and his wife Shamima Nasrin, chairman of the e-commerce platform, were sued by a customer for fraud and harassment.

The anti-money laundering agency sought details of bank accounts of both Rassel and Shamima.

Banks and financial institutions have been asked by the BFIU to provide all information, including transaction details of the accounts maintained by the couple.

In a letter, the agency also sought details of all cheques issued or deposited worth Tk50 lakh or more by the Evaly owners. 

Evaly did not respond to requests for a comment until the filing of this report.

Also Read - Evaly Chair and MD sued for fraud, harassment

Earlier in August last year, bank accounts of Evaly and its owners were frozen for a month.

The Anti-Corruption Commission is also investigating allegations of embezzlement and money-laundering against Evaly. 

A court has already slapped overseas travel bans on Rassel and his wife as part of the investigation.

The Ministry of Commerce sent a letter to Evaly on August 13 asking for information on its liabilities and assets, the amount of debt owed to customers and merchants and the plan to repay this debt. 

In response, the company said its liabilities stood at Tk543 crore.

Earlier in a report, the central bank mentioned that the company did not deliver the products after taking an advance of Tk214 crore from customers.

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