Ashneer Grover, the co-founder of BharatPe, and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover have paid Rs. 8.2 crore in advance tax to the authorities for the upcoming financial year 2022-23. For the second year in a row, Grover would be one of the highest tax-paying startup founders in India.
Grover, who was the company’s CEO until last year and the managing director until last week, paid Rs 7.1 crore, while his wife Jain, who was the Head of Controls at the fintech startup until last month, paid Rs 1.1 crore in advance tax. Grover and his wife both quit the fintech unicorn this year after they were scrutinized for misusing funds at BharatPe.
While Grover opted to resign on March 1 when he felt the board was conducting their review in an unprofessional manner, Madhuri Jain got fired in February over financial irregularities. In response, she published a series of videos on Twitter criticizing the BharatPe executive team and board of misogyny amid “drunken orgies” in the workplace.
Grover is currently being investigated by tax authorities for tax evasion as a result of alleged fraud of funds at BharatPe. GST officials are now reviewing BharatPe books from the previous four years to look up if bogus invoices for services were issued as well. GST authorities have been reviewing BharatPe’s records since last year for alleged issuance of bills without any actual supply of products, and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) undertook a search operation at the fintech firm’s headquarters in October 2021.
According to reports, the DGGI will investigate if bogus invoices were issued to other consumers. “The original GST evasion case pertained to the issuance of fake invoices without any actual supply of goods. Following the recent allegations against Madhuri Jain, we are now looking into the fake invoice issuance without any actual service,” unnamed DGGI officials were quoted in a PTI report.
The GST probe into BharatPe is reported to have been triggered by an internal company audit that discovered irregularities in payments to some vendors. Grover has continued to dismiss these charges, even arguing that the firm has publicly insulted his family, but BharatPe has responded aggressively, claiming that the mercurial entrepreneur and angel investor is falsifying allegations.
Shashvat Nakrani, the cofounder of BharatPe, stated this week that Grover reportedly attempted to create a false narrative about the company. Nakrani clarified his point in an internal email, writing, “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.” He also supported the Board, saying it responded “quickly and decisively,” and that the decision was made to “uphold good corporate governance.”