Bharat Pe says Ashneer hand in glove with wife in grossly abusing company money

Ashneer Grover (IANS/File photo)

Bharat Pe says Ashneer hand in glove with wife in grossly abusing company money

New Delhi, March 2, 2022

Fintech platform BharatPe said on Wednesday that Ashneer Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain, and their relatives were engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds and had grossly abused company money to fund their lavish lifestyles.

In a statement, BharatPe said it reserves all rights to take further legal action against him and his family.

"The Grover family and their relatives engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds, including, but not limited to, creating fake vendors through which they siphoned money away from the company's expense account and grossly abused company expense accounts in order to enrich themselves and fund their lavish lifestyles," the statement said.

The company said that the Board would not allow the "deplorable conduct of the Grover family to tarnish BharatPe's reputation or that of its hard-working employees and world-class technology."

"As a result of his misdeeds, (Ashneer) Grover is no longer an employee, a founder, or a director of the company," the company announced.

Grover had sent an emotionally-charged resignation letter ahead of the crucial BharatPe board meeting as an independent Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) "governance review" found him guilty of financial irregularities worth several crores along with his wife Madhuri Jain Grover.

The Board was set to grill Ashneer over the PwC report regarding his conduct and take action based on it, which was to ultimately sack him.

Sensing what was coming his way, Ashneer decided to shoot off an emotionally-charged and lengthy resignation to the Board, in a bid to salvage his image.

BharatPe said that the Board is taking all necessary steps to further strengthen the company's corporate governance, including the appointment of an audit committee, an internal auditor, and the implementation of other key internal controls.

"Minutes after Ashneer Grover received notice that some of the results of the inquiry would be presented to the Board, he quickly shirked responsibility by sending an email to the Board submitting his resignation and fabricating another false narrative of the events to the public," said the company.

The company said it has taken strong objection to Grover "spinning lies and hurling baseless allegations and threats".

The resignation came as top investors in the fintech platform declined to buy his 8.5 per cent stake in the company for Rs 4,000 crore as he had sought. Grover also lost an arbitration in Singapore he filed against the fintech platform for launching a probe against him.

According to sources, Grover's valuation does not hold ground as the company is not valued at $6 billion as being projected by him. At a $2.85 billion valuation and at the current dollar-rupee exchange rate, his stake would be around Rs 1,824 crore, they said.

On February 23, BharatPe had terminated the services of his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, head of controls at the fintech platform, for alleged financial irregularities during her tenure.

Sources told IANS that Madhuri Jain's contract was terminated as a probe had found misappropriation of funds during her time at the fintech platform.

"Madhuri Jain's contract has been terminated and the reasons for this are misappropriation of funds and authorisation of inflated bills during her tenure," said the source.

Alvarez and Marsal, a leading management consultant and risk advisory firm, is set to submit its report into financial irregularities at the firm during Grovers' time soon.

Global audit firm PwC was also roped in for auditing the functioning of the fintech platform during the Grovers' tenure.

The newly-appointed BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer recently wrote a letter to disgruntled employees, saying that there are some "serious allegations" based on internal complaints which are being reviewed and they must keep their faith in the Board.

While many findings of governance review are "pretty standard", there are "a couple of more serious allegations," he wrote, saying the review is still "substantiating the allegations".

Sameer said that whatever the Board decides, it will be in the best interest of employees, merchants and consumers.

Earlier, Ashneer Grover, who was co-founder and managing director of the commpany, faced a controversy for allegedly using inappropriate language against Kotak Mahindra Bank's staff and took voluntary leave till March-end. His wife also went on leave in January.

IANS

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