Bangladesh Bank will investigate the financial transactions and other e-commerce activities of e-commerce platform Evaly.
Head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) Abu Hena Razee Hasan informed reporters about BB’s move. He said the bank accounts of Evaly and its top executives were frozen after seeing media reports about the e-commerce firm’s “illegal activities”.
The BFIU, an arm of the Bangladesh Bank, directed all commercial banks and financial institutions through a common letter on August 27 to freeze all bank accounts operated by top executives of Evaly.
A copy the BFIU letter, signed by its deputy director Fuara Khatun, obtained by UNB, shows that it has asked all banks and financial institutions to freeze accounts of Evaly’s Chairman Shamima Nasrin, and Managing Director (MD) Md Rasel.
The letter mentioned both numbers – old NID and smart NID cards – and said the directives have been issued to suspend all transactions to and from the bank accounts of Evaly chairman and MD for the next 30 days under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2019.
The banks and financial institutions have also been directed to send relevant documents of their opening of bank accounts like account opening form, KYC (know your customer), updated transactions statement, deposits and withdrawal receipts over Tk 50 lakhs, pay order, bank cheques, the information about the payee and depositors, their NIDs with images within five working days from date of the letter’s issuance.
Allegations galore against Evaly
There have been media reports that e-commerce firm Evaly has been running business offering its customers unusual cash back like 100 percent or 150 percent on advance payment for a product.
E-commerce business experts say no firm can give 100 percent or more cash back against purchase of a product. It was alleged that when a customer deposited money to buy a product, Evaly took much time to supply the product.
The Directorate of National Consumer Right Protection, a department under the Commerce Ministry, also received huge allegations from consumers about “cheating” by Evaly.
This prompted the Commerce Ministry to form a high level committee to investigate allegations received against the firm.
Bangladesh Bank officials said that one of the major allegations against Evaly is forcing its consumers to deposit their money in e-wallet of the firm which was totally illegal. The e-wallet is known as PSP and PSO in financial terms.
On March 5, the central bank in a circular asked all scheduled banks not to provide any banking services or transactions facility to unlicensed payment service providers (PSP) and payment system operators (PSO).
The central bank found that several entities, especially e-commerce firms, have been illegally operating as PSPs and PSOs without obtaining the required licence from Bangladesh Bank.
The circular said that customers’ confidence in legal PSPs and PSOs would be hurt if any of the illegal entities closed down operations or cheated customers.
BB asked all scheduled banks not to facilitate custodian accounts, trust-cum-settlement accounts or any other accounts or transaction facilities and banking services to the entities which were running mobile or e-wallets as payment system operators or any other payment service provider without obtaining licence from the central bank.
The banks were also asked not to provide payment gateways or merchant aggregation services to the illegal PSPs and PSOs.
Bangladesh Bank officials said the Evaly has violated such provision of the central bank for which it will investigate the e-commerce firm.