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BharatPe sues former MD Ashneer Grover for fraud

Fintech unicorn BharatPe has accused its ousted managing director Ashneer Grover, and his family of embezzling company funds to pay for personal expenses, including rent, plane tickets, and skincare products, as well as funnelling money to fake vendors and recruitment services.

In a civil lawsuit filed in the Delhi high court on Thursday, BharatPe has sought ₹88.67 crore in damages from Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, and family members. It said Grover and his family created fictitious vendors in Panipat to provide services to BharatPe, raised fake invoices and overcharged the firm for recruitment.

The payments firm also filed a criminal complaint against Grover and his family, including Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain and Shwetank Jain, with the Delhi Police. BharatPe is seeking damages from Grover and family, including a claim for payment made against the invoices of non-existent vendors, amounting to ₹71.7 crore; payments made to vendors purportedly providing recruitment services totalling ₹7.6 crore; ₹5 crore in damages for loss of reputation to the company caused by tweets and other statements made by Grover and his family members.

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BharatPe claimed Grover has been running a “vicious campaign” against the company on social media.“The civil complaint is for recovery of losses BharatPe has faced because of the acts of Ashneer, his wife and his family. This is one team—headed by Madhuri Jain Grover, advised and guided by Grover, and then others—BharatPe is going against,” a person close to the matter said, seeking anonymity.

Grover and Madhuri Jain Grover’s counsel said his client was not served a notice and that “they only came to know about this through print media today”. The Delhi high court asked Grover and his family to respond to the company’s charges within two weeks. The next hearing will be in the first week of January. Law firm Trilegal is representing BharatPe in the civil suit filed in the high court.

BharatPe

BharatPe has filed a criminal complaint against Grover and his family with the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police, alleging criminal breach of trust, conspiracy, cheating, forgery and destruction of evidence. “For EOW to assign an investigating officer, then investigation, charge sheet filed based on the investigation, and for an actual criminal trial to start may take more than a year. The punishment in the offences that BharatPe has made out is close to 10 years imprisonment,” the person added.

“BharatPe has been preparing to file a case against Grover and his family for six months. It took the opinions of senior counsels and then went ahead with this. The criminal complaint has 2,600 annexures,” another person added.

MZM Legal is working with BharatPe on the criminal complaint. “BharatPe has initiated civil and criminal action against Grover, Madhuri Jain Grover and other connected parties for various claims, including misappropriation of company funds. As the matter is sub judice, we have no further comment,” a BharatPe spokesperson said. Grover declined to comment on the story on Wednesday night.

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