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BharatPe founder likely to be fired over fraud charges

BharatPe founder likely to be fired over fraud charges

The controversial founder of QR aggregator firm BharatPe is being investigated for alleged charges of fraud and may be removed from his post as managing director according to numerous media reports. BharatPe is conducting an internal investigation and founder Ashneer Grover's wife Madhuri has also been put on long-term administrative leave, fuelling more rumours.

A report by LiveMint cites sources close to the company who said that there was evidence of "double digit crore" fraud conducted by Grover, Madhuri and several of their relatives who are not affiliated with BharatPe.

The board has found indications of "premeditated" fraud and is awaiting more conclusive evidence before pursuing legal action. "Investors are in no mood to let this go, and they want to set an example out of this," the first anonymous source said, adding that legal action to claw back Grover's equity in the company is also being evaluated.

Grover was placed on leave by January 19 after an audio clip surfaced in which a voice - allegedly Grover - can be heard threatening and abusing an employee of Kotak Wealth Management for not raising enough capital for Nykaa's Initial share sale. The abusive nature of the audio clip meant Grover was put on leave so an enquiry could be made which turned up further issues, sources said.

"This is not because of the Kotak issue, where Ashneer still maintains to his colleagues and the board that the audio is fake. This is a bigger case of financial fraud for which Ashneer, his wife Madhuri and five others (relatives of the couple, all of whom were not employees) are being investigated," another source told LiveMint.

BharatPe, through its legal firm, Shardul Amarchand, has appointed Alvarez and Marsal (A&M), a leading management consultant and risk advisory firm, to advise the board on its recommendations, the company said in a statement. It has denied firing any employees including Grover's wife but has refused to respond to further questions regarding the alleged fraud committed by its founder.

Madhuri Jain, head of controls at BharatPe, helmed procurement, finance and human resources from the company's early days. She and Grover had an immense amount of influence over the day-to-day functioning of the company which led to Grover being able to deny management requests for a qualified Chief Financial Officer (CFO) LiveMint quoted a company source as saying.

Grover has apparently roped in New Delhi-based law firm Karanjawala & Co. and is engaging with them on how to best safeguard his position and keep his shareholding of around 9% intact in the fintech startup, IndiaTimes reported.

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