BharatPe logo is displayed on a smartphone screen
Image courtesy: Pavlo Gonchar

BharatPe board orders independent audit amid Ashneer Grover’s audio clip controversy

BharatPe, the fintech unicorn, has appointed risk advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal to conduct an independent audit of the startup’s internal processes and systems, only days after cofounder Ashneer Grover took a leave of absence from the company after multiple controversies.

BharatPe logo is displayed on a smartphone screen
Image courtesy: Pavlo Gonchar

“The Board of BharatPe is committed to the highest standard of corporate governance at the company and is doing an independent audit of the company’s internal processes and systems,” the company in a statement said. “BharatPe, through its legal firm, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas has appointed Alvarez & Marsal, a leading management consultant, and risk advisory firm to advise the Board on its recommendations.”

Bharatpe Press Release on independent audit
Via: The Economic Times

We already reported BharatPe’s dispute with corporate governance in one of our previous reports. While Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover have been the in headlines over the last week due to the alleged audio leak. Mrs. Grover, BharatPe’s Head of Controls, has also taken leave, with the company’s board of directors initiating an independent investigation. Mrs. Grover has been a part of the New Delhi-based fintech startup since its inception and oversees operational & financial standards among other internal compliance.

The news broke just days after BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover took a “voluntary leave” till the end of March 2022. His departure from the fintech firm followed an audio clip of his expletive-laced tirade that surfaced on the microblogging site Twitter.

This internal audit also stems from BharatPe co-founder Bhavik Koladiya’s previous conviction in the United States in a credit card fraud case and the questions arising may complicate matters for managing director Ashneer Grover, who is already entangled in a number of controversies.

Grover’s issues with BharatPe drew attention when an audio clip of Grover allegedly threatening as well as verbally abusing a Kotak Mahindra Bank official over a phone call went viral. Grover can be heard in the viral audio clip abusing and threatening a Kotak Mahindra employee, allegedly because he and his wife were not allocated shares during Nykaa’s IPO. In the viral audio clip, the bank official was trying to calm down the fintech founder. “This is your last day, live your life. An encounter is going to happen to you. Your encounter will happen in front of your family,” Ashneer Grover can be heard saying, in an indirect reference to encounter killings by law enforcement.

Ashneer Grover and his wife are said to have filed a lawsuit for damages based on the potential gains they would have generated from the Nykaa IPO if they had been able to invest Rs 500 crore in it. The clip’s legitimacy was later confirmed when Kotak Mahindra Bank issued a statement in response, saying, “This notice was received by us and was replied to appropriately at the time, including placing on record our objections to inappropriate language used by Mr. Grover.” Later, SEBI ordered Kotak Wealth to provide details about the IPO investment fiasco with Grover.