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Ashneer tried to create a false narrative about BharatPe, says Co-founder Shashvat

Shashvat Nakrani, the co-founder of BharatPe, has accused Ashneer Grover, with whom he co-founded the merchant fintech startup, of building a false narrative regarding the company, and claims that the board acted promptly and aggressively in unseating him after receiving findings of a PwC audit.

Ashneer Grover (left) and Shashvat Nakrani, co-founders of fintech firm BharatPe

Ashneer Grover (left) and Shashvat Nakrani, co-founders of BharatPe

New Delhi-based BharatPe, which enables shop owners to accept digital payments via QR codes, stripped Grover of his titles and roles last week for his alleged “misdeeds” and may pursue subsequent legal action, including the revocation of some of his shareholding.

In a memo to employees, Nakrani stated that the Grover incident was an outlier and not the norm at BharatPe, and went on to defend the board members, whom he labeled as “celebrities in the banking and financial services industry.”

“Ashneer Grover, my co-founder, is no longer associated with BharatPe as an employee, a founder, or a director of the company,” he wrote. Grover handed his resignation to the Board late at night on March 1, 2022, minutes after receiving the agenda for the Board meeting on the findings of the PwC independent audit.

While he did not go into detail about the findings of the PwC report, the firm had stated last week that, “the Grover family and their relatives engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds, including, but not limited to, creating fake vendors through which they siphoned money away from the company’s account and grossly abused company expense accounts in order to enrich themselves and fund their lavish lifestyles.”

Grover, according to Nakrani’s memo, “tried to create a false narrative about the company that we have built together with the right spirit. While the content of the inquiry report is confidential and as a board member, I am not at liberty to disclose its findings, I am proud of the fact that our board acted quickly and decisively to uphold good corporate governance.”

Grover currently holds a 9.5 percent ownership in BharatPe, while Nakrani holds a 7.8 percent. Sequoia Capital India is the largest shareholder in BharatPe, with a 19.6 percent shareholding, followed by Coatue at 12.4 percent and Ribbit Capital at 11 percent.

In response to BharatPe’s action, Grover claimed last week that he was shocked but not surprised by the personal point of view of the company’s statement. “It comes from a position of personal hatred and low thinking,” he said. Grover further questioned the role of ex-SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar, an independent director on the BharatPe board. In defending the board, Nakrani stated that it is made up of well-known individuals from the banking and financial services industries who have been really supportive during these difficult times.

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