The commerce ministry on Monday sent a letter to e-commerce platform Evaly, asking it to explain how it will clear its current liabilities to customers and merchants.
The commerce secretary said they would have to resort to court to pay off Evaly's debts from the money in its bank accounts or by selling its current assets.
If Evaly does not pay the liabilities to any customer or merchant, they can file a case with the relevant court or with the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh told reporters after a meeting on Monday.
The e-commerce platform has been given until 1 August to send a written explanation to the commerce secretary on why legal action should not be taken against it to secure the interest of customers and merchants, and put a stop to the negative impact on the e-commerce industry.
In the notice, the commerce ministry stated that as of 14 March this year, Evaly owes customers Tk213.98 crore and merchants Tk189.85 crore, against which it has shown asset value of Tk91.69 crore and current working capital of Tk65.17 crore.
These amounts were published in a Bangladesh Bank investigation report filed on 16 June after receiving various complaints about the e-commerce platform.
The commerce secretary said the ministry was looking into whether the company or its entrepreneurs have any other assets apart from this.
The ministry in its notice said it had found evidence that Evaly had taken money in advance from clients and was not providing their products on time and at the same time was not paying the merchants it had taken products from.
The ministry observed that Evaly's activities could put a lot of clients and businesses into losses.
The commerce secretary said even the government cannot return customers' money from Evaly's bank accounts without a court order.
Responding to a question, he said they will take actions against Evaly and other e-commerce companies as per the law of the land if they are found to have cheated customers out of their money like what was done in the case of Destiny and Jubok.
Following a report published on 22 June by The Business Standard based on the central bank's report on Evaly, a number of banks, including Dhaka Bank, Bank Asia and Brac Bank, suspended the use of their debit, credit and prepaid cards for online transactions with 10 e-commerce companies.
Besides, bKash on Saturday suspended its payment services with 10 online merchants, including Evaly, citing protection of customers' interest as a cause.
The other merchants are Alesha Mart, Dhamaka Shopping, E-orange, Sirajgonj Shop, Aladinerprodip, Qcoom, BoomBoom Shopping, Adyan Mart, and Needs.
Besides, a Dhaka court has imposed a travel ban on Rassel, the managing director of Evaly, and his wife Shamima Nasrin, also the chairman of the company, from travelling abroad amid an ongoing probe into charges of embezzlement against the e-commerce company.