The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Ashneer Grover, the ousted co-founder and Managing Director of BharatPe, in response to a complaint filed by the company. The FIR alleges fraud of INR 81.28 crore. Additionally, BharatPe has filed a civil suit seeking damages amounting to INR 88.67 crore with the Delhi High Court.
Details of the FIR
According to documents reviewed by Inc42, the FIR accuses Ashneer Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, and other family members of serious criminal offences, including criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, and criminal conspiracy. BharatPe alleges that the accused paid fictitious HR consultants linked to certain family members, resulting in suspicious transactions.
BharatPe on the FIR
In a statement to Inc42, a BharatPe spokesperson emphasized that the company has been subjected to a malicious campaign by Grover for the past 15 months, specifically targeting the company, its board, and employees. The registration of the FIR is a significant step in uncovering the alleged criminal activities and bringing the responsible parties to justice. The spokesperson expressed confidence in the judicial and law enforcement systems and assured full cooperation with the authorities during the investigation. BharatPe has enlisted the guidance of MZM Legal in handling the criminal case.
In addition to the FIR, BharatPe has filed a civil suit with the Delhi High Court, seeking damages from Ashneer Grover, Madhuri Jain Grover, and their family. The suit highlights various financial irregularities, such as approving payments to vendors for non-existent services and fraudulent payments to HR consultants. Furthermore, it alleges that the Grovers used a company guest house as their personal residence and billed the company for personal expenses. BharatPe has also initiated arbitration proceedings in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre to reclaim restricted shares allotted to Grover.
In light of the allegations against Ashneer Grover and his family, BharatPe has also requested the disclosure of assets owned by the Grovers and other family members. This move aims to shed light on any potential undisclosed assets relevant to the ongoing legal proceedings. Furthermore, BharatPe has sought a restraining order from the court, prohibiting the Grovers from posting derogatory material against the company on social media platforms. The court has issued a summons to the Grover family, instructing them to respond to the charges presented.
Other Lawsuits Against Ashneer Grover
Apart from BharatPe’s legal actions, Ashneer Grover is also facing lawsuits from BharatPe co-founders Bhavik Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani, who seek to regain their shares in the company. The Delhi High Court is currently hearing these cases, and Grover has been summoned in connection with the lawsuit filed by Shashvat Nakrani.
Implications of the FIR for BharatPe
The legal disputes and actions taken against Ashneer Grover have had wider implications for BharatPe, impacting its internal dynamics and operations. Since Grover’s termination in March, the company has been working diligently to stabilize its management and address the allegations of financial irregularities. These legal proceedings have highlighted the importance of strong corporate governance and the need for transparent and accountable leadership within fintech startups like BharatPe. As the legal cases progress, the outcome will affect the individuals involved and shape the company’s future trajectory, potentially influencing its reputation and standing in the industry.
The registration of the FIR by the EOW against Ashneer Grover and his family, based on the complaint by BharatPe, underscores the allegations of an INR 81 crore fraud. BharatPe’s simultaneous civil suit and arbitration proceedings further demonstrate its determination to seek damages and recover shares. The legal actions taken by multiple parties against Grover illustrate the ongoing disputes between BharatPe and its former management. In this challenging situation, cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the judicial system is crucial to ensure a thorough investigation and a just resolution.