Trouble in paradise: BharatPe’s founder Ashneer Grover under scanner as probe exposes financial irregularities
Ashneer Grover, the founder of BharatPe and his wife Madhuri Jain are up for increased pressure as preliminary findings of an independent probe have surfaced. An investigation is underway by Alvarez and Marshal (A&M) and commissioned by the board of BharatPe that has found financial irregularities including fraudulent transactions including payments to “non-existent” vendors and irregular invoices generated to substantiate spends. This has further mounter pressure on Grover by the board members to exit the fintech company permanently. Ashneer Grover is at present on temporary leave from the company after an audio clip was leaked where Grover is heard abusing an employee of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
A&M’s report on January 24 had revealed that BharatPe pays multiple ‘consultants’ a recruitment fees for employees that are recruited by them. The report said, “In five sample cases, the employees have confirmed their date of joining as slated in the vendor invoice. But they have denied being recruited or engaged through the stated consultant or any knowledge of the.” Report further adds that Madhuri Jain, wife of BharatPe’s founder Ashneer Grover has herself forwarded three such invoices to the company for payment release, allegedly created by her brother Shwetank Jain.
“As per the document, the creator of all these invoices is ‘Shwetank Jain’. We understand from public domain sources that the brother of Madhuri Jain is ‘Shwetank Jain’. We noted invoices of three other vendors related to recruitment expenses. These have the same commonalities as mentioned above and all have the ‘author’ in document properties as ‘Shwetank Jain,” read the preliminary findings of A&M.
Since the Kotak audio clip was surfaced, Grover and his wife were under scanner for financial irregularities. In an interview with Economic Times on January 31, Grover had said he would happily move from his executive role in company and stay as a shareholder and founder of BharatPe that is valued at $2.8 billion. “ I do not fear anything, and I know how to create value, and will not waste my time in politics or where there is just value preservation. Irrespective of what happens, no one can take it away from me that I created BharatPe from scratch at a record time.
If I don’t have the same degrees of freedom, I’m equally happy being a shareholder and a founder…” he had said. “I’m happy to participate in anything, as long as it is fair and as per Indian laws. Anything which is extrajudicial or if anyone wants to go overboard—I will not be able to participate. I’m very clear as far as my personal wealth is concerned—it’s an open book,” added Grover.