BharatPe sues Ashneer Grover, his wife for ₹88 crore over misusing funds, know details


Months after co-founder Ashneer Grover and Madhuri Jain Grover were ousted from the company over allegations of misappropriation of funds, leading fintech firm BharatPe has sued them for damages worth about 88 crores ($10.7 million), summon issued by the Delhi High Court on 8 December noted.

According to the summon, Ashneer, his wife Madhuri and other family members were aske dto respond to BharatPe’s charges within two weeks. The next hearing date has been set for 9 January, 2023.

The charges, put against Ashneer, Madhuri and others include creating fake bills, enlisting fictitious vendors to provide services to the firm and overcharging the firm for recruitment.

The firm has also fictitious vendors to provide services to the firm that include criminal breach of trust, forgery, document fabrication, and embezzlement. If convicted, Grover faces a 10-year prison sentence.

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Following a forensic audit which revealed multiple irregularities, Madhuri Jain — who was head of controls at BharatPe – was fired in 2021. Soon after this, Ashneer resigned as CEO as his dispute with the firm became widely known.

With often Ashneer could be seen speaking openly regarding hs stint at BharatPe through social media, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing BharatPe, has request the the Delhi High Court to ask restrain Grover from continuing this.

Apart from 88 crore damages, the firm in its civil suit has sought 5 crore for reputational damage caused by Grover’s public statements.

“Once the Defendants occupied these key positions and roles, they treated the Plaintiff as their personal fiefdom. By willfully perpetuating the lack of internal governance policies in the Plaintiff company, they conducted its affairs for their personal benefit,” BharatPe alleged in its plea.

Citing the instances of irregularities by Ashneer, BharatPe alleged that the former co-founder directly hired Mr Behl for a salary of 1 crore and created to charge the firm a whopping 15 percent commission on the hiring.

On the issue of making a payment to vendor purportedly providing travel agency services — Golden Holidays, BharatPe alleged that Ashneer and his wife Madhuri arranged the payment for it. While the alleged firm did not provide any services and payment for the same bookings and dates had already been made by the company to another travel agency.

“The payment to Golden Holidays is evidently a double payment caused to be made by Defendant Nos. 1, 3 and 4 for the misappropriation of funds from the Plaintiff,” MoneyControl noted the Bharatpe as saying.

Among other allegations, BharatPe accused Ashneer of contributing nothing to the technology and concept of BharatPe. Ashneer was made a part of the firm in 2018 with his ‘paltry’ investment of 31,920 for which 3,192 shares were allotted.

While, Ashneer claim that his association helped transform the company into a unicorn. The tech company found enormous success offering digital payment services across India, reported Bloomberg.

Since the beginning of 2022, BharatPe has been marred with controversies after Ashneer was accused of using inappropriate/foul language and threatening a Kotak Group employee. He had allegedly threatened the Kotak employee for failing to secure an allotment and funding for the Nykaa IPO for himself and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover.

After Ashneer and Madhuri’s ouster, BharatPe hired Alvarez and Marsal, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, and PwC to conduct a corporate governance review to determine if Grover had committed willful misconduct.

BharatPe then on 10 May decided to take steps against employees involved in misconduct. Also, the firm decided to claw back Ashneer Grover’s restricted shares.

After raising $370 million led by Tiger Global, the fintech firm joined the unicorn club in August 2021. It had then appointed Rajnish Kumar as chairman later in October. However, he too was dragged in controversies.

With agency inputs. 

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