BharatPe co-founder: Ashneer Grover creating ‘false narrative’, board upheld ‘governance’
The board of directors of BharatPe “acted quickly and decisively to uphold good corporate governance” to remove its co-founder Ashneer Grover from all positions, the company’s other co-founder Shashvat Nakrani wrote in an e-mail to employees. A copy of the mail was reviewed by The Indian Express.
Nakrani wrote that the company was at an annualised total payment volume (TPV) run rate of of $16 billion and its revenue was likely to rise by four times in the current fiscal, compared to the previous year.
Accusing Grover of creating a “false narrative” about BharatPe, Nakrani wrote: “What is important to note is that this is an aberration and not the norm.”
Nakrani wrote the email to BharatPe employees after the company’s board unseated Grover from all positions in the startup on the basis of findings of a PwC audit into the company’s corporate governance practices. Nakrani, however, did not reveal PwC’s findings in his email, saying the contents of its enquiry report were confidential. PwC was brought in late January, following complaints of misconduct at BharatPe.
After stripping Grover of all his positions in the company, BharatPe’s board had accused him, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover and their relatives of engaging 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 company had also said it reserves the right to take further legal action against Grover and his family.
“Ashneer sent in his resignation late night on March 1, 2022 to the Board, minutes after receiving the agenda of the Board meeting on the findings of the PwC report,” Nakarani is learnt to have said in his email. “Sadly, he has also gone ahead and tried to create a false narrative about the company that we have built together with the right spirit”.
Grover declined to comment on this paper’s queries, saying, “I have better things to do”. BharatPe did not respond until publication.
Earlier in February, BharatPe had terminated the employment of Madhuri Jain Grover over alleged “misappropriation of funds”.
“We are at an annualised TPV (total payment volume) run rate of $16 billion (INR 1.2 lakh cr). Our merchant lending vertical is scaling up well; we have seen phenomenal growth and initial successes in postpe, and are about to cross 1,000 cr disbursals in just 5 months of launch; PAYBACK is delivering great numbers and has a lot in store,” Nakrani noted. BharatPe’s tussle with Grover and his wife came to light in early January shortly after an audio clip — where Ashneer allegedly using expletives against a Kotak Bank staffer — surfaced, prompting the board to look into the company’s practices under Grover.
A prolonged legal battle is possible over Grover’s stake in the company. As of August last year, he held 9.5 per cent stake in the company, of which 1-2 per cent are restricted shares. Sources had earlier told The Indian Express that BharatPe’s board intends to invoke clauses from Grover’s shareholder agreement to claw back on his stake — which Grover has said is worth Rs 4,000 crore.