BharatPe can't seem to stay out of news, with most of it originating because of its co-founders. This time around, its former co-founder Bhavik Koladiya has lodged a court case against the company's former managing director (MD) Ashneer Grover and the company to reclaim his stake in the fintech unicorn.
Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani founded the New Delhi-based company in 2017. Keen to bring on board someone to head its operations, they eventually joined hands with Grover. The latter received 32 per shareholding upon joining the company in June 2018. At that time, Nakrani had a 25.5 per cent stake, while Koladiya was the largest shareholder with a 42.5 per cent stake.
The situation took a turn when Sequoia Capital joined BharatPe's cap table in 2018. Koladiya decided to step down as a co-founder, as he had a case filed against him in the United States courts.
In 2007, Koladiya went to jail in the US for accepting a digital payment without a licence for his grocery shop. After a two-year-long judicial proceeding, he was released with a $100 million fine and was deported to India in 2015.
Following the investment from Sequoia Capital, Koladiya transferred his shareholding to Grover, Nakrani and Mansukhbhai Mohanbhai Nakrani and moved to the company's tech vertical as a consultant.
Since then, Koladiya, who is currently the CEO of the fintech SaaS platform OTPless, has been claiming that he had signed a deal with Grover and Nakrani, 'pledging' his BharatPe shares. He added that Nakrani had honoured the deal, but Grover did not revert.
Moreover, Suhail Sameer, BharatPe's then-CEO, also denied Koladiya's claim and said he was unaware about Koladiya’s contract.
Sameer stepped down as BharatPe's CEO on January 3, transitioning from managing the company's day-to-day operations to being its strategic advisor.
“I do not know if there was a transfer of shares with a promise of you giving it back or anything else. Even if you have sold it to me for peanuts, a sale is a sale. As of now, Bhavik is not a shareholder in the company, and Shashvat is not transferring his shares,” Sameer told ET Prime.
Koladiya refused to comment to the media on these developments since the case is sub-judice.
Grover has been taking jibes against his ex-colleagues, Nakrani and Sameer, on social media since their acrimonious fall-out. Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain and other family members are embroiled in a legal spat with company over fiscal discrepancies during his tenure as a CEO.
BharatPe has filed a civil suit against the above in the Delhi High Court as well as a criminal complaint with the Economic Offences Wing, and an arbitration to take away Grover’s restricted shareholding and his co-founder title over alleged irregularities. Claiming that the Grover couple created false bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to offer services to the company and overcharging for recruitment, the fintech has sought over Rs 88 crore in damages from Grover, Jain and his brother.
An incensed Grover has taken to social media, and also published a book 'Doglapan', to harangue against what he believes is a witchhunt. He recently called Sameer incompetent, while asking Nakrani to handle the business.
Poem for start of 2023:— Ashneer Grover (@Ashneer_Grover) January 3, 2023
‘Chala gaya Suhail Sameer - he was a nalla !
Shashvat - why don’t you man up and sambhalo the galla ?!’
For my English speaking friends: 1) Nalla (Nalayak) is incompetent / incapable and 2) Galla is business / helm of affairs.