bharatpe: The story so far: How the ‘shark’ Ashneer Grover at BharatPe got tanked

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Fintech startup BharatPe, valued at $2.8 billion, and its founder Ashneer Grover have been hogging the headlines since the beginning of the year. But, it hasn’t been a great beginning for the 39-year-old fintech founder.

It all started when an audio clip surfaced on social media platform Twitter, where Grover was allegedly heard threatening and abusing a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee over an IPO financing for Nykaa IPO which didn’t come through. Grover, however, maintains the clip is fake.

Here is a look at the series of events that led to the fall of the ‘shark’.

Jan 5: An anonymous handle on Twitter, called ‘bongo babu’, had put up a Soundcloud link to an audio clip that was allegedly of an argument involving Grover, his wife and an employee of Kotak Mahindra Bank, where Grover allegedly hurled expletives for missing out on a margin funding for Nykaa’s IPO.

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Jan 6: Grover
says an audio clip circulating on social media, which allegedly features him abusing a bank employee, is fake. He claims “some scamster” is trying to extort $240,000 in bitcoin from him using the clip.

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Jan 8: Grover told ET that
since the audio clip has been taken off Twitter and SoundCloud, he has deleted his tweet too. There was no point keeping the tweet anymore on his Twitter profile, he added.

Ashneer GroverETtech

Jan 9: Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain sent a legal notice to Kotak Mahindra Bank on Oct 31, 2021 for failing to provide financing in Nykaa’s IPO, it emerges. The bank says it will take
“appropriate legal action” against Grover over the contents of the audio clip.

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Jan 17: An email exchange between Grover and Sequoia India’s Harshjit Sethi from August 2020 surfaces, in which the BharatPe cofounder
allegedly used expletives over the course of the conversation.

Jan 19: The BharatPe cofounder
goes on ‘voluntary’ leave until the end of March.

Jan 29: The board announces an
independent audit of BharatPe’s internal processes and systems.

Jan 30: Grover says he expects an amicable resolution with the board, even
as he hires a Delhi -based law firm amid mounting pressure mounts on him to leave the company permanently.

Feb 4: Reports emerge that a preliminary audit report, dated January 24,
found evidence of fraudulent transactions in recruitment and payments to non-existent vendors. Hours later, it is revealed that Grover had written to board members on February 2,
asking them to remove CEO Suhail Sameer from the board.

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Feb 10: Madhuri, controller at BharatPe, writes to Alvarez & Marsal (A&M),
questioning the consulting firm about recent media leaks. Her letter also questions the manner in which a probe into alleged irregularities at the fintech firm is being conducted.

Jain’s letter said that she was considering legal action against the firm, and has demanded an internal investigation on how the contents of the probe undertaken by A&M were allegedly ‘leaked’.

Feb 11: BharatPe chief executive Suhail Sameer told employees that findings of an ongoing governance review of the Delhi-based firm will be shared with the board in a couple of weeks while assuring them that the fintech firm has sufficient funds to tide over the crisis.

sameerETtech

Sameer also said that the company is
“under constant scrutiny and spotlight” and “what is being written is nothing but unsubstantiated rumours,” in an attempt to assuage widespread concerns among the employees.

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