The Bangladesh Bank has found that SMD Jasim Uddin Chishti, managing director of the controversial e-commerce platform Dhamaka Shopping, has moved Tk84 crore from customer advance payments to his own personal bank account.
A recent inspection by the central bank also revealed that Chishti lent Tk25 crore to other companies he owns and embezzled another Tk20 crore in the name of buying software.
The company, which has suspended operations, collected Tk736 crore from customers and paid only Tk 557 crore to companies that sold products on its platform.
However, despite this huge amount of money owed to customers and merchants, Dhamaka Shopping has only Tk 45.28 lakh in its bank account, according to another report of Bangladesh Bank.
Dhamaka owes Tk303 crore to customers and another Tk167 to merchants, a total debt of Tk480 crores, according to the inspection report, which the central bank forwarded to the commerce ministry on 26 December.
The money paid by its customers was looted by top officials of Dhamaka and their relatives, stated the report, and added that there is a strong chance they embezzled huge sums of money by transacting on paper without trading at all with the merchant companies.
Bangladesh Bank has reason to doubt that Dhamaka’s Chief Operating Officer, Sirajul Islam, and his brother Md Selim Hossain, and many others were involved in the Ponzi scheme which the company ran.
The central bank in its report further stated that it will be easier to reveal the truth if all beneficiaries and dishonest sellers, who received money without providing products, are brought to justice.
Dhamaka Shopping had over two lakh registered customers and some 11,000 vendors supplied products to the company.
According to the report, Dhamaka has sold products worth Tk 724 crore to customers for Tk 402 crore, which created a deficit of Tk 322 crore. Chishti also transferred a sizeable portion of the money from customers to his personal account in the name of lending to various institutions and purchasing software.
Although three Dhamaka officials, including Sirajul Islam Rana, were arrested in a fraud case filed by a customer in September last year, Jasim Uddin Chishti is still a fugitive abroad, said law enforcement sources.
Analysing data from two of the merchant companies that supplied products to Dhamaka, Bangladesh Bank said that a large portion of the customer money was paid back to customers in cash and checks without delivering goods. In other words, sales only took place on paper.
‘A number of customers, who initially enjoyed discounts from Dhamaka, have received cash and checks from vendor companies in stages. There is a need for a further probe into the involvement of Dhamaka Shopping and its vendors with these beneficiaries,” the report added.
Dhamaka Shopping is an e-commerce business of Invariant Telecom Bangladesh Limited, a concern of the Microtrade Group. Other companies in the group are Invariant Technologies, Microtrade Food and Beverage, and Microtrade ICX Ltd.