The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police said it has found numerous anomalies in financial transactions by e-commerce site Dhamaka Shopping as law enforcers on Monday sought a travel ban on the top brass of the venture and blocked their national identity cards.
"We have found huge anomalies in Dhamaka's financial transactions. The company transacted more than Tk588 crore, but it could not even show any paper for running a business," said Humayun Kabir, special police super at the CID's organised crime.
He told The Business Standard that they were now looking for Dhamaka's money laundering details.
According to CID investigation, Dhamaka's bank account was opened in the name of Invariant Telecom, and the account has transacted more than Tk588 crore since November last year.
The account had only Tk93,731 left as on 27 June as investigators suspect Dhamaka has allegedly transferred crores of taka, received from customers as advance payments, to other bank accounts.
Earlier, a central bank inspection found another e-commerce company Evaly's Tk403.80 crore liabilities to customers and merchants against its assets worth only Tk65.17 crore.
After the primary investigation, CID on Monday sent a letter to police's Special Branch (SB), seeking travel ban on Dhamaka's top brass, including Deputy Managing Director Nazim Uddin, Office Director (Operations) Safwan Ahmed, accounts and finance chief Aminur Hossain and CEO Sirajul Islam.
Besides, the Election Commission was asked to block their national ID cards. When contacted, SB Police Super (Admin) Shariar Kabir acknowledged receiving the letter from the CID.
Previously, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had imposed a travel ban on Evaly's Chairman Shamima Nasrin and Managing Director Mohammad Rassel.
Officials privy to the CID investigation said Dhamaka does not have any e-commerce registration or bank account as the shopping site has been running as an associate of Invariant Telecom.
The CID said it quizzed Dhamaka CEO Sirajul and accounts and finance chief Aminur at its headquarters in the last two days. Dhamaka Managing Director Jashim Uddin Chisti did not show up despite being summoned to the CID office.
"We are getting exclusive information about Dhamaka every day. The managing director has laundered Tk60-70 crore to the USA," one of the investigators told TBS.
He added, "The company also invested around Tk50 crore collected from its customers to a food and beverage unit in Gazipur. Besides, the top officials have transferred customers' money to their own accounts."
During the CID interrogation, Dhamaka high-ups admitted transferring and investing customers' money, but they ping-ponged the blame to one another.
Contacted, Sirajul Islam told TBS Monday that he was not aware of financial anomalies, rather the managing director and accounts chief were aware of that.
He said Dhamaka managing director is now in the USA as he cannot come home due to the pandemic.
TBS talked to several customers who are yet to get the products even after clearing the full payment in advance.
"I ordered five motorcycles at 40% discounts three months ago. But I am yet to get the deliveries," said Salahuddin from Pabna.
He said the company's deliveries were on time until March, then those became irregular. "Dhamaka gave me cheques for refund, but I could not cash those as the account does not have sufficient balance."
He said he contacted the Dhamaka office to file the complaints, but no solutions came out eventually.
Dhamaka started the journey in November last year, and collected advance payments from customers with 40-50% discounts on cars, bikes and other products like its market rival Evaly.
The company offered a 35% discount on posh cars including Mercedes-Benz. Dhamaka's website on Monday still offers 40% discounts on several products though the discount on bikes and cars have been lowered to 10%. The company has been witnessing a drastic fall in its orders as CID sought the central bank to freeze the bank account linked to Dhamaka.
In the meantime, several banks suspended their payments gateways with Evaly, Alesha Mart, Eorange Shop, Sirajganj Shop, Aladiner Prodip, Qcoom, Boom Boom, Adyen Mart and Needs on allegations of fraud and irregularities.
Recently, top mobile phone-based money transfer service provider bKash suspended transactions with ten e-commerce platforms including Evaly.