FINTECH COMPANY BharatPe has terminated the services of Madhuri Jain Grover, the company’s former head of controls and wife of co-founder Ashneer Grover, over alleged financial irregularities.
The company confirmed the development but did not reveal any reason for the move. "As per your query, we can confirm that the services of Madhuri Jain Grover have been terminated in accordance with the terms of her employment agreement," a company spokesperson said.
Sources told that Madhuri’s services were terminated over alleged "misappropriation of funds" and allegations that she used company funds to purchase beauty products and pay for family trips to the US and Dubai. The stock options vested in her were also cancelled in line with the employment contract, sources said.
The alleged financial irregularities have been detailed in the termination letter, sources said. Once the allegations emerged, both Ashneer and Madhuri were sent on a leave of absence in January.
Ashneer, who was sent on a three-month leave of absence, is learnt to be moving closer to an out-of-court settlement with BharatPe after filing an emergency plea before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre seeking to quash the company’s investigation. He is believed to be seeking indemnity from any future liabilities while selling his stake back to the company.
Late Wednesday, Madhuri posted a series of tweets and videos apparently showing BharatPe employees partying at the workplace.
In the tweets, she accused them of inappropriate behaviour in office, being "chauvinistic" and "passing judgement" on her. She posted screenshots of messages purportedly between a top executive and her husband, and questioned the governance review process that led to the termination. She also posted the purported recording of a telephone call allegedly made by BharatPe co-founder Bhavik Koladiya to her husband, asking him to come for a meeting.
The development comes close on the heels of an audit report prepared by A & M, a risk advisory firm roped in to look into the company’s corporate governance. According to some of the preliminary findings of the report, payments were allegedly made to "dubious" recruitment firms, with crores of rupees spent on "non-existing" vendors and "questionable invoices" created to substantiate such payments. A &
M was appointed by BharatPe through Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, its legal firm, to look into internal governance issues—specifically, to assess if senior executives were making proper internal disclosures about personal investments, and check for conflicts.
Separately, the company’s board also appointed PwC late last month to investigate aspects such as accounting, approval processes, expenses and hirings. PwC’s forensic team is likely to study the findings submitted by A & M.
The initial findings of A&M’s independent audit came just weeks after the controversy involving Ashneer and Madhuri erupted in the wake of a leaked audio clip, where the former was purportedly heard verbally abusing a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee for not being able to secure shares of e-commerce company Nykaa during its IPO.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that, in light of the allegations, BharatPe’s board was potentially looking to leverage provisions in the company’s Articles of Association (AoA) to terminate Ashneer’s services and buy back certain restricted shares held by him.