Ashneer Grover, the cofounder of fintech startup BharatPe, has reportedly experienced a big defeat in his legal battle with the company’s board and CEO, as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has rejected his plea to restrict the company from directing a third-party governance review.
After several weeks of controversies, the SIAC rejected to halt BharatPe’s probe into the company’s operations and governance under Grover, according to a PTI report. Grover had filed an emergency plea with the Singapore arbitrator earlier in February, questioning the importance of a governance review. He also alleged that the company’s initial investigation infringed the shareholder agreement as well as articles of association.
According to reports, the first hearing on the arbitration commenced on February 20, with the SIAC issuing the rejection order last week. Grover further claimed that all appointments for an outside audit of the company’s internal processes and systems were ethically wrong. According to sources, the emergency arbitrator (EA) rejected all five reasons for relief.
Grover, who took a two-month leave of absence last month amid allegations of using abusive language against Kotak Mahindra Bank employees and involving in fraudulent practices, had claimed that members of the committee reviewing governance processes, including company CEO Suhail Sameer and general counsel Sumeet Singh, appeared to be biased. Grover had also asked that “the appointment of Suhail Sameer as a director be put in abeyance, and he is prohibited from exercising any functions as director of the firm,” in his plea, which also said that no action be taken against him.
In response to Grover’s charge of bias, the EA stated that Grover’s allegation did not appear reliable or credible because, until a week ago, both Suhail and Sumeet were among the best executives and everything was perfect about them. Furthermore, everything the firm has done is in accordance with law and governance standards, thus there is no need to revise anything, the EA stated, categorically rejecting all claims and providing no relief to Grover.
Grover can appeal the arbitrator’s decision to the Delhi High Court, the source added. Grover said in his plea that, despite countless representations/objections, BharatPe intentionally kept the review & assessment by the review committee confidential, preventing him the opportunity to present his case. Grover was represented by Karanjawala & Co, meanwhile, BharatPe was represented by senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi.
Last week, Ashneer’s wife and head of controls at BharatPe Madhuri Jain Grover was also fired by the company over financial irregularities discovered by the fintech firm.