BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover attacks fintech’s board chairman Rajnish Kumar, says governance review is a ‘facade’

Bangalore: BharatPe co-founder and managing director Ashneer Grover has written to the company’s board attacking former State Bank of India chairman Rajnish Kumar, and informing it about an ‘abusive’ communication between himself and group product chief Bhavik Koladia. has done. Kumar is the chairman of the board of BharatPe. Grover said the alleged phone conversation took place in Kumar’s presence.

In the letter, Grover said that the board’s chairman Kumar’s participation in the ‘episode’ confirmed his apprehensions that “the whole mask of the alleged governance review is full of premeditation, bias and prejudice”.

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“Kumar’s participation completely eliminates any form of non-partisan supervision by him as envisaged for his role in the review committee. The manner in which Koladia, who is neither a board member nor an employee of the company, is being involved in communication with me by Rajnish Kumar, also reinforces my concerns that the company is intentionally leaking confidential information. ,” Grover said in his letter on Tuesday afternoon.

Interestingly, Grover had brought banking stalwart Kumar to BharatPe in October last year and appointed him as the chairman of the board.

Furthermore, Grover, despite being one of the founding members of BharatPe, addressed Colladia in his letter as an ‘independent contractor’ working with the ‘IT team’.

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As part of the communication, Grover has also stated that an arbitration is going on before the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC), “I would like to inform the Board that we are already going before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. are in the process of arbitration. (SIAC) and communications from the Company must be directed to me through the Company, the Board, or its attorneys. I will be on behalf of the Company and/or its Board members through such unrelated third parties I don’t appreciate the tone and tenor of parallel talks directed at me,” Grover said.

Responding to the allegations made by Grover, Kumar said in an internal communication that the allegations were completely baseless and he has no intention of continuing on the board of BharatPe.

I am not a party to the conversation that Bhavik had with Ashneer. Should the board members have any doubts about my impartiality in the matter, I have no intention of continuing and cannot tolerate such disturbances by anyone,” Kumar said in his mark to all board members on Tuesday evening. said in response.

ET has reviewed communications sent by Grover and Kumar. BharatPe and Grover did not respond to ET’s queries on the matter.

What actually happened?

According to Grover’s letter dated February 22, Grover received calls from Koladia for a possible meeting in the presence of Kumar, the chairman of the board. Koladia had asked to meet Grover in Kumar’s presence.

During the conversation, Koladia invited Grover to Kumar’s residence in Gurugram. But, Grover refuses, asking Kumar and Koladia to meet in Delhi instead. Also, Koladia did not put forward the agenda of the meeting, when Grover asked. The phone conversation between the two soon turned into a dispute.

“Despite my clear communication to meet at an opportune time, Koladia continued to provoke me and threatened me with extremely abusive and unparliamentary language. On such provocation I told Koladia that I am not interested in talking to him if he wants to discuss things like this,” Grover said in his letter to the board of BharatPe.

demand for compensation

The communication between Grover and the Board confirms that negotiations are underway between the two sides. ET had reported on February 22 that Grover, citing sources, has sought damages from any future action against him in the ongoing settlement discussions with the fintech firm and its shareholders.

This comes even as Grover has filed an arbitration petition at the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC) amid a protracted battle between himself and the company’s board and shareholders to retain his 9.5% stake in BharatPe.

Those aware of the goings-on said Grover is actively indicating his intention to settle with the board and the company in these talks. During his negotiations, Grover again raised the issue of BharatPe Chief Executive Suhail Sameer’s exit from the company.

Madhuri Jain sacked

On February 23, ET reported that BharatPe has sacked the company’s controller Madhuri Jain on charges of “misappropriation of funds”, citing sources. Jain has been in charge of finances at the $2.8 billion company since October 2018, and was also named in a preliminary investigation by Alvarez & Marsal to link financial irregularities at the startup.

Jain had alleged in a letter to BharatPe’s board on February 10 that he never actually resigned, which is said to have been accepted, ET first reported on February 18.

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