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Ashneer Grover Resigns From BharatPe: What Led to This? Controversy Explained

How did the series of events — allegations, demands, petitions et al — catapult into Ashneer Grover's resignation?

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“I write this with a heavy heart as today I am being forced to bid adieu to a company of which I am a founder. I say with my head held high that today this company stands as a leader in the fintech world.”
Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder BharatPe

Ashneer Grover, co-founder and Managing Director (MD) of BharatPe, on Monday, 28 February, resigned from the fintech firm with immediate effect.

While he relinquished the roles of BharatPe MD and director of the board, Grover has stated that he will continue on as the “single largest individual shareholder of the company.”

His resignation comes close on the heels of BharatPe sacking his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, Head of Controls at the company, over allegations of misappropriation of funds; and Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) rejecting Grover’s petition against the company for initiating an investigation against him.

In his resignation letter, Grover wrote:

Ashneer Grover Resigns From BharatPe: What Led to This? Controversy Explained

  1. 1. Timeline of Events

    “Since the beginning of 2022, unfortunately, I’ve been embroiled in baseless and targeted attacks on me and my family by a few individuals who are ready not only to harm me and my reputation but also harm the reputation of the company, which ostensibly they are trying to protect."

    Meanwhile, BharatPe has claimed that Grover’s resignation came minutes after he received the agenda for a board meeting that would include submission of a PWC report regarding Grover’s conduct, and considering actions on it, according to Hindu BusinessLine.

    According to media reports, Grover, who himself has been accused of financial fraud, had demanded a payout of Rs 4,000 crore from investors, in return for his stake and his exit from the company.

    But what was going on? What were the allegations against Grover? And how did the series of events – allegations, demands, petitions et al – catapult into Grover’s eventual resignation?

    • Early January: Audio clip emerges of Ashneer Grover allegedly using profanities against a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee. While Grover dubbed the clip fake, the bank has said they will press charges against Grover.

    • Mid January: Emails emerge pertaining to a spat (dating August 2020) between Grover and Harshit Sethji, managing direct of Sequoia Capital India. Sequoia holds more than 19 percent stake in the company, and the email exchanges are with regard to BharatPe’s series B funding being delayed due to Sequoia not committing to the round. Meanwhile, Sequoia flagged concerns about Grover purportedly wanting to partially sell shares in a secondary transaction.

    • 19 January: Grover goes on a voluntary leave of absence till March-end.

    • January end: Caught under the glare of media, BharatPe brings in independent auditors to probe the company’s practices under Grover.

    • 23 February: BharatPe sacks Madhuri Jain Grover, Head of Controls at the company and Ashneer’s wife over allegations of misappropriation of funds. Her name had cropped up during the independent audit by Alvarez and Marsal.

    • February end: Reports suggest that key investors at BharatPe turn down Grover’s offer to sell his 9.5 percent stake in the company for over Rs 4,000 crore, in return for him quitting the company.

    Expand
  2. 2. Allegations Against Grover

    Grover, since the beginning of the year, has found himself mired in controversies and deluged in allegations ranging from abusive language to financial fraud. Briefly, allegations against him comprise of:

    • Using expletives against a Kotak Mahindra Bank staffer

    • Promoting and participating in a “toxic work culture” in which, media reports suggest, aggressive language became the norm and top-level talent eventually left the company

    • Allegations of financial irregularities against his wife Madhuri Jain Grover and him.

    Meanwhile, Grover had rubbished all such allegations claiming that the company board is trying to “arm-twist” him into negotiating and taking less money for his shares, according to Times of India.

    Expand
  3. 3. BharatPe Fires Madhuri

    In what Madhuri Jain Grover alleged was a “perfectly executed witch hunt,” she was fired on 23 February by the company on charges of 'misappropriation of funds.’

    Sources with knowledge of the matter reportedly told PTI that she was accused of using company funds for personal beauty treatments, buying electronic items and family trips to the US and Dubai.

    Her removal came as her husband launched an attack on BharatPe investor Rajnish Kumar. Madhuri too, thereafter, took to Twitter to accuse CEO Suhail Sameer and co-founders Bhavik Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani of indulging in "drunken orgies" and treating women like objects.

    Expand
  4. 4. Ashneer Grover's Resignation Letter

    Alleging that the investor-founder relation in India is one of “master-slave” and claiming that he is “the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again,” Grover wrote:

    “Unfortunately, I refuse to walk that path and refuse to tolerate this continuous and shameful vilification of me and my family. I have been the one who founded this company and built it up to its enviable position today, no wonder you want to oust me for your vested interests.”

    Maintaining that the investors will not find a single act of impropriety against him, Grover also said that he will not participate in the purported charade.

    “Since you clearly believe you can run this Company better without me – I am leaving you with this challenge,” Grover wrote.

    Read the full text of Ashneer Grover’s letter here.

    (With inputs from PTI, TOI and Hindu BusinessLine.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand
“Since the beginning of 2022, unfortunately, I’ve been embroiled in baseless and targeted attacks on me and my family by a few individuals who are ready not only to harm me and my reputation but also harm the reputation of the company, which ostensibly they are trying to protect."

Meanwhile, BharatPe has claimed that Grover’s resignation came minutes after he received the agenda for a board meeting that would include submission of a PWC report regarding Grover’s conduct, and considering actions on it, according to Hindu BusinessLine.

According to media reports, Grover, who himself has been accused of financial fraud, had demanded a payout of Rs 4,000 crore from investors, in return for his stake and his exit from the company.

But what was going on? What were the allegations against Grover? And how did the series of events – allegations, demands, petitions et al – catapult into Grover’s eventual resignation?

Timeline of Events

  • Early January: Audio clip emerges of Ashneer Grover allegedly using profanities against a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee. While Grover dubbed the clip fake, the bank has said they will press charges against Grover.

  • Mid January: Emails emerge pertaining to a spat (dating August 2020) between Grover and Harshit Sethji, managing direct of Sequoia Capital India. Sequoia holds more than 19 percent stake in the company, and the email exchanges are with regard to BharatPe’s series B funding being delayed due to Sequoia not committing to the round. Meanwhile, Sequoia flagged concerns about Grover purportedly wanting to partially sell shares in a secondary transaction.

  • 19 January: Grover goes on a voluntary leave of absence till March-end.

  • January end: Caught under the glare of media, BharatPe brings in independent auditors to probe the company’s practices under Grover.

  • 23 February: BharatPe sacks Madhuri Jain Grover, Head of Controls at the company and Ashneer’s wife over allegations of misappropriation of funds. Her name had cropped up during the independent audit by Alvarez and Marsal.

  • February end: Reports suggest that key investors at BharatPe turn down Grover’s offer to sell his 9.5 percent stake in the company for over Rs 4,000 crore, in return for him quitting the company.

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Allegations Against Grover

Grover, since the beginning of the year, has found himself mired in controversies and deluged in allegations ranging from abusive language to financial fraud. Briefly, allegations against him comprise of:

  • Using expletives against a Kotak Mahindra Bank staffer

  • Promoting and participating in a “toxic work culture” in which, media reports suggest, aggressive language became the norm and top-level talent eventually left the company

  • Allegations of financial irregularities against his wife Madhuri Jain Grover and him.

Meanwhile, Grover had rubbished all such allegations claiming that the company board is trying to “arm-twist” him into negotiating and taking less money for his shares, according to Times of India.

0

BharatPe Fires Madhuri

In what Madhuri Jain Grover alleged was a “perfectly executed witch hunt,” she was fired on 23 February by the company on charges of 'misappropriation of funds.’

Sources with knowledge of the matter reportedly told PTI that she was accused of using company funds for personal beauty treatments, buying electronic items and family trips to the US and Dubai.

Her removal came as her husband launched an attack on BharatPe investor Rajnish Kumar. Madhuri too, thereafter, took to Twitter to accuse CEO Suhail Sameer and co-founders Bhavik Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani of indulging in "drunken orgies" and treating women like objects.

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Ashneer Grover's Resignation Letter

Alleging that the investor-founder relation in India is one of “master-slave” and claiming that he is “the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again,” Grover wrote:

“Unfortunately, I refuse to walk that path and refuse to tolerate this continuous and shameful vilification of me and my family. I have been the one who founded this company and built it up to its enviable position today, no wonder you want to oust me for your vested interests.”

Maintaining that the investors will not find a single act of impropriety against him, Grover also said that he will not participate in the purported charade.

“Since you clearly believe you can run this Company better without me – I am leaving you with this challenge,” Grover wrote.

Read the full text of Ashneer Grover’s letter here.

(With inputs from PTI, TOI and Hindu BusinessLine.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  bharatpe   ashneer grover 

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