A retail chain with its headquarters purportedly in Jakarta has allegedly duped wholesalers in Patna of at least Rs 2 crore.
A group of traders on Thursday went to the office of Patna City superintendent of police Jayant Kant to lodge their complaint against 365Bazaar.
They claimed that representatives of the company had approached them in December last year and January this year and ordered large consignments of groceries, cosmetics and electronics. The payment for the goods was made in cheques but all the cheques bounced.
Swarn Singh, a dealer in incense sticks, told The Telegraph: “One Arvind Kumar Singh, who claimed to be a director of the company, came to me in December last year. Their branding was very attractive — hoardings of 365Bazaar could be seen all over Patna. He claimed that 75 retail stores, selling everything from groceries to electronic goods to household items, would be opened in Patna. The first store would open near Beur jail by end-March.”
He added: “The company offered us lucrative deals. I sold them incense sticks worth Rs 1.2 lakh. The problem started 10 days ago when the cheques started to bounce.”
On Wednesday evening, when a group of traders went to the warehouse of the company at Phulwarisharif, and were talking to some of the 365Bazaar officials, a mob descended on them and looted much of the merchandise stored there.
Erstwhile employees of the company have a different version of the events to narrate though.
Pankaj Prakash, the former assistant branch manager, said: “We were at the company warehouse last evening (Wednesday) when a group of traders whose cheques have bounced came there. They beat us up and took away whatever merchandise they could lay their hands on.”
Prakash and his colleagues have lodged a complaint at Phulwarisharif police station.
He claimed that the employees were also victims of the company’s policies. “On February 27 — that is yesterday — I, and a hundred other employees, got an email (a copy of which is with The Telegraph) from the company’s human resource email id firstname.lastname@example.org informing us that our services had been terminated.”
Prakash and his colleagues had joined the company in December and January. They were trained for a week and then started to purchase, according to instructions from their superiors.
“The construction of a store began at Beur in the first week of February. But the employees were suddenly sacked on Wednesday,” said Prakash.
According to the website of the company, the address of its headquarters is 365Bazaar, Wholesale Retail India Pvt. Ltd, 30/F Menara Standard Chartered, Jl Prof Dr Satrio Kav 164, Jakarta 12930, Indonesia.
An FIR has been lodged against the company director A.K. Singh, purchase and store manager Sashi Shekhar Tiwary and accounts officer Abhay Kumar. None of them was available for comment on Thursday.
A police officer said they had started investigating the case. “Commenting on anything right now is difficult. Prima facie, it looks like a case of fraud. We are trying to verify and investigate everything,” he said.