• Ziling's board members have suspended CEO Ankiti Bose amid a financial probe, reports say.
  • Investors are concerned with the startup's accounting practices, Reuters and Bloomberg reported.
  • Zilingo was founded in 2015 and reached $970 million in valuation four years later.

A fashion e-commerce startup in Singapore valued at $970 million has suspended its CEO after investors launched a probe into the company's accounting practices, Bloomberg and Reuters reported this week, citing unnamed sources.

Ankiti Bose, 30, cofounded Zilingo in 2015 with Dhruv Kapoor. In 2019, Zilingo raised $226 million from its investors, which pushed its valuation to $970 million, per Bloomberg

On Wednesday, Zilingo said its board members decided to suspend Bose as an investigation into "matters" is underway, Reuters reported.

The company did not specify the focus of the probe to Reuters, but unnamed sources told Reuters and Bloomberg the probe is related to the company's financial and accounting practices. These include how the startup was keeping records of transactions and revenue, sources told Bloomberg. The company has avoided filing annual financial statements since 2019.

Bose and cofounder Kapoor met in Bengaluru, India, in 2014 where they shared an idea to help small players to produce, source for, and trade fashion apparel. They made Singapore the company's base, Bloomberg reported in 2019. The investigation and Bose's suspension threaten to derail Bose's push to have the startup she cofounded reach unicorn status.

Big-name Zilingo investors Temasek Holdings and Sequoia Capital first raised concerns to its board last month, sources told Bloomberg and Reuters.

"The major investors hired an independent firm to investigate the matter, and the company is working closely with the major investors and the independent firm for the investigation," Zilingo said in a statement to Reuters.

Bose disputed Zilingo's board's decision to suspend her and called it a "witch hunt," according to a correspondence seen by Bloomberg. The outlet was the first to report on Bose's suspension. 

"We are of the view that our client's suspension has been procured by invalid and defective means; that the investigation commenced into her is unfair and lacking in due process, and that she has been suspended without proper and reasonable cause," Bose's lawyer told Bloomberg.

Zilingo, Bose, and her lawyer did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

Zilingo has offices in Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and India, per Bloomberg. In 2020, the company laid off dozens of employees from its 900-strong workforce as Southeast Asia enforced COVID lockdowns, according to a company blog post and a previous Bloomberg news report.

As these economies reopen, Zilingo is forecasting better financials in the fiscal years to come. In late 2021, it predicted that core net revenue would rise from about $40 million for that fiscal year, to about $60 million in fiscal year 2022, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

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