It appears that former Shark Tank investor Ashneer Grover is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time, the situation is rather serious. The Delhi Police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the Former Managing Director and Co-Founder of BharatPe, accusing him of cheating and fraud of Rs 81 crore.
Why Has Delhi Police Filed FIR Against Ashneer Grover?
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police has taken a major step in the ongoing investigation of financial misconduct by registering a First Information Report (FIR) against Ashneer Grover, the former managing director of BharatPe.
The FIR, filed on the grounds of a complaint made by BharatPe, alleges cheating and fraud amounting to a staggering Rs 81 crore.
The complaint also implicates Ashneer Grover's wife, Madhuri Jain Grover, as well as three relatives, namely Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain, and Shwetank Jain. These individuals are believed to have played a role in the fraudulent activities under investigation.
What Are The Charges and Sections in the FIR Filed Against BharatPe Co-Founder?
The FIR, officially registered on Wednesday, cites multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 406 (criminal breach of trust), 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant or by banker, merchant, or agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), and 120B (criminal conspiracy). These charges highlight the gravity of the alleged offenses committed by the accused.
What Is BharatPe’s Reaction on the FIR?
BharatPe, in an official statement, expressed their satisfaction with the EOW's decision to register the FIR. The company has been enduring a relentless and malicious campaign orchestrated by Ashneer Grover against its board, employees, and overall reputation for the past 15 months. The registration of the FIR marks a positive step forward in unveiling the various suspicious transactions undertaken by Grover and his family for personal financial gains.
The statement by BharatPe reads, "The registration of the FIR is a step in the right direction, which unearths various suspicious transactions made by the family for their personal pecuniary gains. This FIR will now enable law enforcement agencies to investigate deeper into the criminality and bring the culprits to book."
The company reiterated its unwavering trust in the judicial and law enforcement systems of the country, expressing optimism that the case would reach a just resolution. BharatPe also pledged full cooperation with the authorities and acknowledged the guidance of MZM Legal in handling the criminal case.
As the investigation progresses, all eyes are on the EOW and the judicial system to ensure a thorough examination of the alleged financial misconduct, ultimately delivering justice to those affected by the fraudulent activities attributed to Ashneer Grover and his associates.
TICE News is awaiting reaction from Ashneer on the FIR.
What is The History of BharatPe Vs Ashneer Grover Conflict?
In the year 2022, BharatPe, a prominent player in the payments and lending business, filed a civil lawsuit against former Shark Tank investor Ashneer Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, and Deepak Gupta, alleging embezzlement of funds. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Delhi High Court in December 2022, accused the defendants of siphoning off company funds to non-existent vendors and using them for personal expenses, such as air travel and rent.
According to the lawsuit, BharatPe sought to recover Rs 83 crore from the defendants for the alleged misappropriation. Additionally, the company sought damages worth Rs 5 crore for the harm caused to its goodwill and reputation as a result of the actions of Ashneer and his wife.
BharatPe, backed by notable investors including Sequoia Capital India, Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global, and Insight Partners, competes with leading payment service providers such as Paytm and PhonePe.
The civil lawsuit claimed that the defendants treated BharatPe as their personal domain, wilfully neglecting internal governance policies and exploiting the company for their personal gain. The association between Grover and BharatPe began in July 2018 when he became a shareholder, and subsequent appointments were made for his wife and Gupta in various positions within the company.
During the period from the financial year 2018-19 until January 2022, the lawsuit alleged that Grover and his relatives exercised complete control over BharatPe. The dubious transactions mentioned in the lawsuit highlighted the magnitude of the financial loss suffered by the company. These transactions included payments of Rs 71 crore to non-existent vendors, Rs 7 crore to vendors supposedly providing recruitment services, Rs 1 crore to a company solely controlled by Jain Grover, and Rs 59 lakh for personal expenses incurred by Grover and Jain Grover.
The allegations against Grover and his associates gained further attention in October 2021 when the Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence conducted a search at BharatPe's premises. Subsequently, an audio clip allegedly containing a conversation between Grover, his wife, and an employee from the Kotak Group was leaked in January 2022, wherein Grover was purportedly heard verbally abusing the Kotak employee.
Following these incidents, BharatPe took swift action, with Grover voluntarily going on leave, and Jain Grover and Gupta being sent on compulsory leave of absence in January 2022. The company formed a review committee to investigate the allegations, which ultimately led to the discovery of a misappropriation of funds totaling Rs 83.6 crore.
In March 2022, Grover resigned from BharatPe, and the employment of Jain Grover and Gupta was terminated by the company in February of the same year. The culmination of these events resulted in BharatPe filing a civil lawsuit against Grover, Jain Grover, and Gupta in December 2022.
The Delhi High Court took cognizance of the lawsuit and issued notices and summons to Ashneer Grover and his family members. In addition, the court restrained them from making defamatory statements about BharatPe.