A brief history of the events leading up to Ashneer Grover’s resignation from BharatPe

BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover has been embroiled in controversy since an audio clip was leaked online in January in which he allegedly abused an employee at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover has been embroiled in controversy since an audio clip was leaked online in January in which he allegedly abused an employee at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

The story so far: Fintech firm BharatPe removed co-founder Ashneer Grover from all positions at the company on March 2, accusing his family of widespread misuse of the company’s funds.

BharatPe said outside consultants reviewed the company’s internal controls, and Mr Grover resigned shortly after being told those findings would be presented to the company’s board. The Grover family’s alleged misappropriation of funds involved the creation of fake vendors to siphon money from the company’s expenses to fund a lavish lifestyle.

In his resignation letter, Mr Grover said he was being “slandered and treated in the most shameful manner”. He added that the company’s investors treated the founders as “slaves.”

Mr. Grover resigned from his positions as chief executive officer and board member, but added that he would remain the “largest single shareholder of the company.”

How did it all start?

In early January 2022, an audio clip surfaced online in which Mr. Grover allegedly abused an employee at Kotak Mahindra Bank for failing to raise funds to purchase Nykaa shares during the company’s initial public offering (IPO). The BharatPe co-founder responded to the audio clip by calling it fake. On January 9, 2022, the lender announced it would take legal action against Mr. Grover.

Following the controversy, the company announced that Mr. Grover was taking a voluntary leave of absence until the end of March.

What are the problems of BharatPe?

Prior to his resignation, Mr Grover’s urgent request for an oversight of the way the company was run was rejected by the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC). In his pleading, he had claimed that members of the committee reviewing corporate governance appeared biased. The Emergency Arbitrator dismissed all of Mr. Grover’s five causes of appeal.

BharatPe has been embroiled in a dispute with co-founder Mr. Grover since the audio clip was leaked. Madhuri Jain Grover, Mr Grover’s wife and head of controls at BharatPe, has been fired on allegations of embezzling funds from the fintech company. She was accused of using company funds for family trips abroad and to pay her personal employees.

Mr. Grover also appeared on a television reality show promoting entrepreneurship in India, which aired around the same time the controversy was boiling, and drew even more public attention. The BharatPe co-founder was seen as an overly rude and harsh judge on the show, and his behavior raised questions about the possibility of a toxic work culture at his company.

Who is Ashneer Grover?

Prior to co-founding BharatPe, Mr. Grover served as Chief Financial Officer at Grofers, a grocery delivery company now called Blinkit. He also has extensive experience as an investment banker. Mr. Grover completed his education at renowned institutes such as IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad.

What is the reach of BharatPe?

BharatPe has over 75 lakh traders using its services in 150 cities. Co-founded by Mr. Grover and Shashvat Nakrani in 2018, the company offers fintech products such as interoperable QR codes for payments and small business finance. The company has facilitated the disbursement of over ₹3,000 crore of loans to its traders since its inception. BharatPe has also raised US$178 million in equity and debt capital to date.

The company is currently valued at $2.8 billion.

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