Singapore-based fashion technology startup Zilingo on Friday said it has sacked Indian-origin co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose following an independent forensic audit into complaints of serious financial irregularities. On March 31, Bose was placed under suspension following complaints of alleged discrepancies in the company accounts.
“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 Ankiti Bose’s employment with cause, and reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action,” Zilingo said in a statement. The firm, however, did not elaborate on the allegations against Bose or the findings of the audit.
It said Bose made certain harassment-related allegations only after she was suspended on March 31, and an investigation has concluded that the firm took appropriate 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,” it said.
A top consulting firm was appointed to look into the claims of harassment, the firm said without naming the consultant.”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 statement said.
Zilingo – an online fashion company that supplies technology to apparel merchants and factories — was founded in 2015 by Ankiti Bose and chief technology officer Dhruv Kapoor.The company, which counts Singaporean state holding company Temasek and Sequoia Capital among its investors, had previously stated that its shareholders and board members received the information of discrepancies that needed investigation, after which, major investors were authorised to suspend Bose.
According to reports, Bose has lawyered up and disputed allegations of wrongdoing. She further contended that her suspension was due in part to her complaints about harassment.
“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,” Zilingo said.
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, it added.Zilingo was started as a Southeast Asia-focused e-commerce firm. Over time, it became a global supply chain for the apparel industry, financing, and other services.
The company – which has about 600 employees in eight countries – raised USD 226 million in its last fundraising round in early 2019. The fundraising had valued the company at about USD 1 billion.As per publicly available records on Singapore’s accounting regulator’s website, the company has not filed annual returns for 2020 and 2021 so far. Temasek had previously backed the investigation saying it supports the company board’s move.