Police yesterday said actors Tahsan Khan, Rafiath Rashid Mithila, and Sabnam Faria are under watch and maybe arrested any time in a case filed by an aggrieved customer of controversial e-commerce platform Evaly.
In the case filed with Dhanmondi Police Station on December 4, Saad Sam Rahman brought fraud charges against nine accused, including the three celebrities, for embezzling Tk 3.18 lakh.
“Since a case has been filed, they are under our watch and will be arrested at any time,” Sazzadur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Ramna Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told journalists at his office.
The complainant said their celebrity status attracted him to Evaly, which eventually defrauded him.
“They cannot avoid responsibility,” said the DC.
Tahsan is the chief goodness officer, Sabnam the chief public relations officer, and Mithila is a brand ambassador of Evaly.
Other accused in the case are Evaly Chairperson Shamima Nasrin, founder and CEO Mohammad Rassel, Vice-President Akash, Chief Marketing Officer Arif R Hossain, Category Head Mohammad Abu Taher Saddam, and Evaly Executive of Operations Abu Tayes.
Nasrin and Rassel are behind bars since Rab arrested them from their Mohammadpur residence on September 16.
The couple and many other Evaly officials and staffers are facing several cases in Dhaka and other districts for fraudulence, embezzlement, cheque fraud, etc. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been carrying out money laundering inquiry against the e-commerce platform.
Complainant Saad said he trusted Evaly after seeing that the three celebrities were involved with the platform.
He then ordered a motorcycle worth Tk 3.18 lakh, but did not get the bike despite serious efforts, said the case statement.
Contacted yesterday, Saad told that soon after the arrest of Evaly CEO and chairperson, he went to Gulshan and Dhanmondi police stations to file a case, but police did not register any.
He then lodged an appeal with a Dhaka court, which ordered Dhanmondi Police Station to accept his case.
The Investigation Officer of the case, Sub-Inspector Rajib Hasan of Dhanmondi Police Station said Rassel and Shamima have been formally shown arrested in the case.
“We have opened an investigation. Legal action will be taken against other accused if their involvement is found,” he told the press.
Tahsan, who is now staying in the US, said, “Evaly had been requesting me repeatedly for a year. When I did not agree, they said, ‘We are with the Bangladesh Cricket Board. We are with Rab’s movie Operation Sundarbans. We got the ICT award, so why don’t you agree?’
“After many requests, I made a deal. But I did not act according to that agreement. Before that, I terminated the contract in May. I was supposed to advertise [for Evaly] according to the contract. But I did not. I was getting a lot of complaints after doing two Facebook Live videos, so I canceled the agreement with them.
He added, “There are brand ambassadors from many organizations around the world. They are not responsible for the activities of the organizations, because they are just promoters. They will move away when the company has problems. It is by no means a crime to promote a company. And what does it mean by ‘arrest at any moment’ or ‘under surveillance’? Law enforcers keep an eye on those who are accused. Such a headline is not expected. I will file a defamation suit in this regard.”
Sabnam Faria said, “These things are being done mainly to harass me. I hope the police will not find any involvement in the investigation. I am not connected to the crimes that have been mentioned in the case. And I haven’t yet received a single penny from Evaly. I have nothing to do with the allegations. I never did a promotion.”
Evaly, in response to a commerce ministry’s directive to explain the whereabouts of around Tk 338 crore it owed customers and suppliers, reported that its total liabilities were Tk 543 crore, including Tk 311 crore to more than 2 lakh shoppers and Tk 206 crore to suppliers as of July 15.
It did not disclose the number of vendors. Nor did it clearly mention when the dues might be cleared.
On October 18, the High Court formed the five-member committee to run the e-commerce platform.