Zilingo fires CEO Ankiti Bose following independent audit

Ankiti Bose. Photo: Ipsita Ray/DEALSTREETASIA

Singapore-based Zilingo’s board has dismissed co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose “with cause”, nearly two months after suspending her from the fashion marketplace.

The company said on Friday it “reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action” within the organisation.

Bose had been suspended since March 31, over complaints of alleged financial irregularities, which included tax liabilities and the misstatement of revenues dating back a number of years. Zilingo has also not filed its financial statements with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) for the fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

Zilingo had appointed an independent forensic audit into the alleged financial irregularities backed by investors including Sequoia Capital India and Singapore state investor Temasek. In April, Bose brought up before Zilingo’s board certain harassment-related issues for the first time, the company claimed.

“The investigation has concluded that the company took appropriate action and followed due process to address these complaints that were brought to their notice,” Zilingo said.

However, Bose wrote in her own statement on Monday: “At the point of my purported termination, I have yet to be presented with the findings of both Kroll and Deloitte [the advisors that Zilingo’s board hired to investigate the company issues] and my reports being incomplete, the board has wrongfully terminated me today for “insubordination” without giving me a chance to address fully the concerns that have been raised.”

She added that she had told the board “in detail about the amount of harassment and duress” she had undergone in the past few years.

Last week Zilingo’s debtholders decided to recall their entire loan, its board informed. “Due to Zilingo’s failure to fulfil prior obligations under the loan agreement, the company’s lenders have decided to accelerate the repayment of the entire loan.”

The company said it is now weighing the future course of the business. “Following the recall of loans by debtholders, an independent financial advisor was appointed by the company which is in the midst of assessing options for the business,” it said.

Zilingo’s statement

Here’s the full text of the statement shared by Zilingo:

“Following an investigation led by an independent forensics firm that was commissioned to look into complaints of serious financial irregularities, the Company has decided to terminate Ms Ankiti Bose’s employment with cause, and reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action.

On April 11th, after her suspension on March 31, Ankiti Bose brought to the board’s attention, for the first time, certain harassment-related issues pertaining to past time periods, which did not include any harassment complaints against investors or their nominees.

A top consulting firm was appointed to look into the claims of harassment brought to the Board’s notice by Ms Ankiti Bose.

The investigation has concluded that the company took appropriate action and followed due process to address these complaints that were brought to their notice, contrary to media reports that have suggested that the suspension and investigation into Ankiti Bose were aimed at suppressing the said harassment claims.

The Company is deeply pained and disappointed to see the manner in which the board, investors and employees have been constantly attacked through ostensibly leaked and fake information, along with what unfortunately appears to be paid and defamatory social media campaigns throughout the investigation period. This has caused irreparable damage to the Company, the board, employees and investors.

Following the recall of loans by debtholders, an independent financial advisor was appointed by the Company which is in the midst of assessing options for the business. More information will be provided in due course.”

Ankiti’s response

Here’s the full text of Ankiti’s response to the board’s decision:

“I have been suspended for the last 51 days on the basis of an anonymous whistle-blower complaint which I have been told came in connivance.

This week I trusted my board and told them in detail about the amount of harassment and duress I have undergone in the past few years and today I am informed that my employment has been terminated on grounds of “insubordination” amongst other things.

I was suspended on the basis that the Company had instructed Kroll to investigate the complaint. I have in good faith proceeded to be interviewed by Kroll on the very day I was told of my suspension.

However, a Kroll document later revealed that Kroll had in fact been appointed not by the Company but by Sequoia Capital. Later it was clarified that the company had, later on, hired Kroll. In fact, it was Mr Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital who informed me that I was suspended by the decision of the Board when it later transpired that the Board had not yet done so.

After I had raised my concerns with the Board about Sequoia Capital’s outsized involvement, Mr Shailendra Singh resigned from the Board and was replaced by Mr Sandeep Kher. Mr Sandeep Kher was the first signatory on my Termination Letter – from the very firm I have requested be refused for conflict of interest. At the point of my purported termination, I have yet to be presented with the findings of both Kroll AND Deloitte and my reports being incomplete, the board has wrongfully terminated me today for “insubordination” without giving me a chance to address fully the concerns that have been raised.

I have only asked for due process and have not gotten it. In fact, I was actively engaging with Kroll to provide them with the information and documents requested.

I had even offered to liaise with colleagues and vendors to prepare a more complete respond to Kroll’s queries. My purported termination, while I am still engaging with Kroll, speaks for itself.

It is also telling that the main reason for my dismissal has nothing to do with the financial allegations, but “insubordination”. I fully reserve my rights to pursue this to the fullest extent of the law.

Bring stories like this into your inbox every day.

Sign up for our newsletter - The Daily Brief
Subscribe to Newsletter

This is your last free story for the month. Register to continue reading our content