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Zilingo—a high-profile fashion technology startup backed by Singaporean state-owned investor Temasek Holdings and Sequoia Capital India—has terminated the employment of cofounder and CEO Ankiti Bose nearly two months after conducting an internal accounting probe.
“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 Bose’s employment with cause, and reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action,” Zilingo said in an emailed statement on Friday.
In a separate statement, Bose said, “I have been suspended for the last 51 days on the basis of an anonymous whistle-blower complaint, and today I am informed that my employment has been terminated inter alia on grounds of ‘insubordination.’”
Bose said she had been suspended while an investigation was carried out by an outside firm, and she had “neither seen the reports and not been given sufficient time to produce any documents requested by them.”
The latest development reflects the growing internal rift between Bose and the Zilingo board, which suspended her on March 31 pending the outcome of the internal accounting probe that was authorized by the company’s major investors including Temasek. A $200 million fundraising round managed by Goldman Sachs in February had sparked questions among investors as to how the startup books revenue from its clients.
Temasek—one of Zilingo’s biggest shareholders—had earlier expressed support for the investigation. “We expect our portfolio companies to abide by sound corporate governance and codes of conduct and ethics,” Temasek said in April. “We are therefore supportive of the board’s investigation into the complaint as part of good governance, to safeguard the interests of the company.”
Zilingo was cofounded in 2015 by Bose alongside Dhruv Kapoor, Zilingo’s chief technology and chief product officer. The pair were featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2018, almost a year prior to Zilingo raising $226 million from Sequoia Capital, Temasek, and Burda Principal that placed the company’s valuation at $970 million.