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Court asks former Astro exec to appear before liquidator in AskMe case

Court asks former Astro exec to appear before liquidator in AskMe case
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Almost a year after e-commerce website AskMe shut shop, the Delhi High Court has asked a former representative of the company’s main investor to appear before the official liquidator in connection with a case filed by advertising firm J Walter Thomspon.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher told the counsel for Grant Scott Ferguson, former CEO of the international business at Malaysia’s Astro Group, that he would have to appear before the official liquidator when called, according to the 9 February court order, which was reviewed by VCCircle. Ferguson had represented Astro on AskMe’s board.

The court order came on a petition filed by JWT over non-payment of dues by Getit InfoServices Pvt. Ltd, which operated AskMe. A lawyer representing JWT did not comment on the matter.

According to the order, Ferguson had failed to appear before the court in person on two earlier occasions. When Ferguson failed to appear before the court during the September 2017 hearing, a bailable warrant was issued against him. Subsequently, when he sought to appear before the court through his lawyer, the warrant was set aside.

Earlier, the counsel for the liquidator had also raised similar concerns when former AskMe managing director and CEO Sanjiv Gupta did not appear before the liquidator to record his statement.

In fact, a similar act was played out when the court had issued a bailable warrant, but subsequently cancelled it when Gupta’s counsel informed the court that his client had appeared before the liquidator in April 2017.

AskMe has been under liquidation since its majority investor Astro Group approached the court seeking to wind up the defunct e-commerce venture, following a public spat between the investor and the AskMe management led by Gupta.

After the loss-making startup suspended its operations and laid off 4,000 employees, Astro had rebuffed the management’s plea for additional funds and a buyout offer.

Though the liquidation process is underway, several vendors, including logistics company Blue Dart Express, advertising firm JWT, technology company HCL and a section of employees have approached the liquidator over non-payment of dues by AskMe.

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