Ashneer Grover seeks removal of CEO Suhail Sameer from BharatPe’s board

BharatPe's board

Ashneer Grover, founder and managing director of BharatPe, has asked the company’s board members to remove CEO Suhail Sameer from the board.

In a note to the board members dated February 2, Grover wrote, “I, now, in exercise of the power vested in me by Clause 3.7 of the SHA and Clause 91.7 of the AoA do hereby withdraw my nomination of Suhail Sameer as a Director nominated by me to the Board of Directors of the Company.” ET has reviewed the document. Sameer, who was hired by Grover in 2020, was made chief executive of BharatePe in August 2021. Grover had assumed the role of managing director around the same time. Interestingly, the letter also includes the consent of BharatPe’s other cofounder Shashvat Mansukhbhai Nakrani to remove Sameer from the board. Bharat Pe’s agreement says that each founder has the right to nominate other person as the director (instead of herself/ himself) prior to the consent of the other investors presenting the majority investor threshold. On Friday morning, ET reported that a preliminary investigation by Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) commissioned by BharatPe’s board had found evidence of financial irregularities around recruitments and payments to non-existent vendors. The report by A&M, dated January 24, said BharatPe pays recruitment fees to a number of ‘consultants’ for employees recruited through them. “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 them,” said the report, which has been reviewed by ET. The report also said Grover’s wife Madhuri Jain received at least three of these invoices herself and forwarded them to the company for payment. The invoices were created by Shwetank Jain, Jain’s brother, the report added. Apart from having the same typeface, these ‘irregular’ invoices also had similar physical addresses, and some even named the same bank branches, A&M’s investigation found. “All of them appear to have a ‘Panipat connection’. It may be mentioned that Madhuri Grover is originally from Panipat,” the report read.

On the other, BharatPe Board is about to accept cofounder Ashneer Grover’s payout demand unlikely amid a battle between the two parties. Expected to lead to a complex legal battle between Grover and the Fintech Startup’s Board. Another shocking arrives, Grover about to leave BharatPe without compensation. Grover has also hired New Delhi Law firm Karanjawala and Co. mounting pressure on him to leave the company permanently. Since then, initial findings of an preliminary investigation conducted by Alvarez & Marsal commissioned by BharatPe’s board has found evidence of financial irregularities around recruitments and payments to non-existent vendors. Emails sent to Insight Partners and Ribbit Capital did not elicit a response. Sequoia Capital India, which owns nearly 20% in the firm, said it had no comment on the ongoing controversy. BharatPe board chairman Rajnish Kumar and board member Kewal Handa declined a request.