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Zilingo fires CEO Ankiti Bose on serious financial irregularities – Economic Times

Bengaluru: Singapore’s business to business (B2B) fashion startup Zilingo has fired its CEO Ankiti Bose for alleged financial irregularities, capping a long drawn-out dispute between the company’s shareholders, board and the founder. Bose had been earlier
suspended from the company on April 12.

“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,” a company statement said.

Zilingo, among the most celebrated tech startups in the Southeast Asia region, said in its statement that on April 11, after Bose was suspended from the CEO position on March 31, she brought to the board’s attention certain harassment claims previously but it did not include any complaint against Zilingo’s investors or their nominees.

A top consulting firm was appointed to look into the claims of harassment brought to the board’s notice by Bose, the company said.

ET had reported on May 4 that Deloitte was appointed to look into harassment claims made by Bose, who previously worked at Sequoia Capital India before starting Zilingo.

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Responding to her ouster as the CEO, Bose issued a statement saying she has been suspended for the last 51 days on the basis of an ‘anonymous whistle-blower complaint’ and she has now been informed about her employment being terminated inter-alia on grounds of insubordination.

“I was suspended on the basis that the company had instructed Kroll to investigate the complaint. I have neither seen the Kroll nor Deloitte reports and not been given sufficient time to produce any documents requested by them. Any report that comes out post my termination, would be vitiated as it seems to be instructed by conflicted parties and we will pursue our rights against this witch-hunt to the full extent of the law,” Bose said in her statement on Friday afternoon.

She added that she will be speaking soon on record with more details about the conflicts of interest in the manner this process has been run.

Zilingo further said, “ 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”.

On April 19, newswire
Bloomberg reported that the company was in discussions to replace Bose amid an investigation into the Singapore startup’s accounting practices.

The alleged accounting irregularities in the Sequoia Capital-backed company were found at a time it was in advanced talks to raise $150-200 million in a fresh round at a potential valuation of $1.2 billion, paving the way for it to become a unicorn. A unicorn is a privately held startup which is valued at $1 billion or more.

Zilingo raised $226 million as part of its last funding round in 2019, which saw participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek and others, after which it was valued at $970 million.

It also raised a bridge round of $35 million from existing shareholders last year.

In April,
Bloomberg also reported that Sequoia Capital India managing director Shailendra Singh had left Zilingo’s board. Sequoia India’s Sandeep Kher took over his director post at Zilingo.

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