Sequoia's Shailendra Singh leaves Zilingo board amid accounting probe: Sources

Sequoia Capital India's Mr Shailendra Singh resigned as a director of start-up Zilingo about a week ago. PHOTO: SEQUOIA CAPITAL INDIA

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Sequoia Capital India's Mr Shailendra Singh has stepped down from the board of troubled Zilingo following questions about the high-profile Singapore start-up's accounting practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr Singh, a managing director at the influential venture capital firm, resigned as a director about a week ago, after the departures of Temasek's Mr Xu Wei Yang and Burda Principal Investments' Mr Albert Shyy, said the people, asking not to be identified because the move has not yet been made public.

All three firms have been prominent backers of the fashion e-commerce platform once hailed as a symbol of South-east Asia's booming Internet economy.

Sequoia and Zilingo declined to comment. Sequoia plans to appoint a replacement and still holds the board seat.

Zilingo has suspended chief executive officer Ankiti Bose and begun an investigation into its financial practices. The company had been trying to raise US$150 million to US$200 million (S$203 million to S$271 million) with help from Goldman Sachs Group when investors began to question its finances as part of the due diligence process, people familiar with the matter said.

The concerns centred on the way that Zilingo accounted for transactions and revenue across a platform spanning thousands of small merchants, Bloomberg News reported. Singapore regulators have said the company has not filed annual financial statements since 2019.

Ms Bose has disputed allegations of wrongdoing and contends her suspension was due in part to her complaints about harassment. She has hired an attorney to represent her, Senior Counsel Abraham Vergis of Providence Law Asia, and has called the investigation a "witch-hunt", according to correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg News.

Ms Bose and her lawyer have declined to comment.

The clash represents a dramatic turn of fate for one of Singapore's most celebrated start-ups. Zilingo was founded by Ms Bose and chief technology and product officer Dhruv Kapoor in Singapore seven years ago to help small businesses across South and South-east Asia sell their goods online. Its valuation surged at one point to almost US$1 billion and Ms Bose became a regular speaker on technology and the promise of South-east Asia.

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