Singapore’s Zilingo has suspended its CEO

Published: April 13, 2022
Updated: April 13, 2022
Ankiti-Bose-CEO-of-Zilingo
Ankiti Bose, CEO of Zilingo

Ankiti Bose, CEO of Zilingo Zilingo Pte, one of Singapore’s most visible startups, has been suspended. CEO Ankiti Bose, after an attempt to raise new funding, raised questions about the company’s accounting, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to people familiar with the situation, Zilingo Pte, one of Singapore’s most visible startups, has suspended Chief Executive Officer Ankiti Bose after an attempt to raise new funding raised questions about the company’s accounting. 

The company, which provides technology to clothing retailers and factories, was attempting to raise $150 million to $200 million with the assistance of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. when investors began to question its finances as part of the due diligence process, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. 

The talks, which could have increased Zilingo’s valuation to more than $1 billion, they said, had stalled. According to the sources, the startup’s investors, which include Temasek Holdings Pte and Sequoia Capital India, have launched an investigation into the company’s financial practices. 

According to them, Zilingo’s auditor raised concerns about its accounting. The issues revolve around how Zilingo, which regulators claim has not filed annual financial statements since 2019, accounted for transactions and revenue across a platform that includes thousands of small merchants.

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As per who are two people familiar with the situation, Bose has denied any wrongdoing and claims her suspension was due in part to her complaints about harassment. She has hired an attorney, Abraham Vergis of Providence Law Asia, to represent her and has referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Temasek and Zilingo both declined to comment. Bose and her lawyer both declined to comment. According to regulatory filings, two Zilingo directors, Temasek’s Xu Wei Yang and Burda Principal Investments Ltd.’s Albert Shyy, left the company’s board last month. 

Zilingo hired Citigroup Inc. veteran James Perry as its chief financial officer in mid-2019, but he left a year later to return to the U.S. bank. The clash is a dramatic turn of events for one of Singapore’s most well-known startups. 

Zilingo was founded in Singapore seven years ago by Ankiti Bose and Chief Technology and Product Officer Dhruv Kapoor to assist small businesses in South and Southeast Asia in selling their goods online.

Zilingo raised $226 million in early 2019 from investors including Sequoia and Temasek, raising its valuation to $970 million, nearly the $1 billion mark that qualifies a startup as a unicorn. Bose, then 27, was hailed as a visionary and a symbol of Southeast Asia’s entrepreneurial potential.

“We were a bunch of twenty-somethings with nothing but a dream, and we decided to chase it,” she explained at the time. Bose had previously worked at Sequoia and stated that the experience helped her build the startup.

According to correspondence from her attorney to Zilingo, Bose has argued that the directors did not follow proper procedures during the process and questioned their right to suspend her.

“We believe that our client’s suspension was obtained through illegal and deficient means; that the investigation launched into her is unfair and devoid of due process; and that she was suspended without proper and reasonable cause,” her attorney wrote.

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