BharatPe, a fintech unicorn, sued former managing director and co-founder Ashneer Grover's wife Madhuri Jain and other family members for up to Rs 88 crore in damages. The Grover family allegedly created fictitious bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to provide services to the company, and overcharged the company for recruitment.
On December 8, the Delhi High Court issued a summons to the Grover family, instructing them to respond to the company's charges within two weeks. The next hearing has been scheduled for January 9.
Meanwhile, the company has filed a criminal complaint against Grover and his family with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on 17 counts, including criminal breach of trust, forgery, document fabrication, and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Jain was fired as BharatPe's head of controls earlier this year after a forensic audit revealed several irregularities. Following a public disagreement with the board, Ashneer Grover resigned as CEO.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who represents BharatPe, also asked the court to intervene to prevent Grover from continuing his "vitriolic campaign" against the company on social media.
The company sought Rs 83 crore in damages for misappropriation of funds and Rs 5 crore in damages for reputational harm caused by Grover's public statements in the civil suit.
Further BharatPe alleged, “Once the Defendants occupied these key positions and roles, they treated the Plaintiff as their personal fiefdom. By willfully perpetuating the lack of internal governance policies in the Plaintiff company, they conducted its affairs for their personal benefit."
In another case, the Grovers arranged for a payment to be made to Golden Holidays, a vendor claiming to provide travel agency services, for a reservation in Thailand. Golden Holidays, on the other hand, did not offer any services. Furthermore, the company had already paid for the same bookings and dates to another travel agency, which had provided the goods and services.
In addition to questionable transactions and phoney vendors, the company claimed that Grover made no contributions to the technology or concept of BharatPe. It was stated that his involvement with the company began in 2018 when he made a'minor' investment of Rs 31,920 for which 3,192 shares were allotted.
“BharatPe has initiated civil and criminal action against erstwhile Co-founder and Managing Director, Ashneer Grover, former Head of Controls, Madhuri Jain Grover, and other connected parties of their family for various claims, including misappropriation of company funds. We have full faith in the courts and authorities and are confident that justice will be done. As the matter is sub judice, we have no further comment to offer at this stage.” said, the company stated.
On May 10, BharatPe announced that, following a thorough investigation, the company had decided to take action against employees who had engaged in misconduct and to reclaim Ashneer Grover's restricted shares.
After raising $370 million led by Tiger Global, the company joined the unicorn club in August 2021. Later in October, the company named Rajnish Kumar as chairman. Kumar has also been drawn into the company's squabbles, with Grover calling for his dismissal, as has CEO Suhail Sameer, who has led the company since Grover's departure.