BharatPe board acted quickly, cofounder Nakrani says on PwC report


Bengaluru: BharatPe cofounder Shashvat Nakrani on Monday claimed that the company board “acted quickly and decisively to uphold good corporate governance”, referring to an audit undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that was tabled before the board on March 1.

“While the content of the enquiry report is confidential and as a board member, I am not at liberty to disclose its findings, I am proud of the fact that our board acted quickly and decisively to uphold good corporate governance,” he said in an internal memo to employees.

“What is important to note is that this is an aberration and not the norm,” Nakrani said about the recent controversy around his fellow cofounder and former BharatPe managing director Ashneer Grover.

“Ashneer sent in his resignation late night on March 1, 2022 to the board, minutes after receiving the agenda of the board meeting on the findings of the PwC report,” Nakrani alleged in the note. “Sadly, he (Grover) has also gone ahead and tried to create a false narrative about the company that we have built together with the right spirit.”

This is one of the first times Nakrani has directly spoken about the controversy that has plagued BharatPe since the start of the year.

In February, he had issued a statement backing BharatPe chief executive Suhail Sameer’s presence on the board, after Grover asked for Sameer’s ouster, indicating his allegiance on the matter.

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“It’s time now to stop rumours and innuendoes from distracting us and go back to building,” he wrote in the internal note.

Going forward, the management would focus on the company’s “culture”, Nakrani wrote. “The most critical is our ‘culture’ and that’s ‘us’. I promise you that we will make BharatPe not only the best place to work in India but also the place where all of us belong.”

Mired in Controversy

Grover had resigned from the fintech startup and its board on March 1, alleging that he has been “vilified” and treated in the “most disrespectful manner”.

Hours later, BharatPe issued a statement claiming that Grover resigned as the managing director and board director minutes after receiving the agenda for an upcoming board meeting at which the PwC report would be tabled. The company said it “reserves the right to take action based on the report’s findings”.

However, in an interview with ET on March 1, Grover claimed he had been preparing his resignation letter for three days, and that BharatPe’s board has pre-empted his move to resign from the company.

On March 2, in a strongly worded statement, BharatPe said it took strong objection to Grover’s “lies” and alleged that he and his family had “engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds”.

“The Grover family and relatives engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds, including, but not limited to, creating fake vendors through which they siphoned money away from the company’s account and grossly abused company expense accounts to enrich themselves and fund their lavish lifestyles,” the note alleged.

ET also reported on March 2, citing sources, that BharatPe was looking to claw back Grover’s restricted shares. He did not seek approval from the company board for his resignation, allowing BharatPe to trigger the company’s Articles of Association (AOA). According to BharatPe’s AOA, if a founder terminates his employment without the consent of the board, the company will buy back the shares for less than the fair market value.

In his interaction with ET, Grover had also attacked Nakrani, calling him and Sameer “spineless” and questioning their abilities.

“See, when people are spineless, you bend in the direction that the wind is blowing… Not a single penny has ever been raised by Shashvat (Nakrani) or Suhail. They don’t even have the ability,” Grover alleged.

Shareholding Mess

ET had on March 5 reported, citing sources, that another battle might be on the cards over the fintech’s original founder Bhavik Koladiya’s stake in the firm, with Grover’s 8.5% stake in the company also including Koladiya’s share.

Koladiya, who became a consultant during the early days of BharatPe – a company that he started – following his conviction in the US in a credit card fraud, is said to have split his holding in the company between the other two cofounders, Grover and Nakrani.

ET also reported on Monday that BharatPe’s shareholders would most likely have to sort out the issue with no intervention from the company’s board.


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