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Delhi HC summons Ashneer Grover, Madhuri Jain; over 3,000 crypto accounts face scrutiny

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BharatPe’s controversial cofounder Ashneer Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain, the company’s former head of controls, have been summoned by the Delhi High Court in relation to a case filed against them by the fintech company. In court, BharatPe’s counsel accused the couple of running a “vicious and vitriolic campaign” against the firm on Twitter.

Also in this letter:
■ Over 3,000 crypto accounts face scrutiny for ‘illegal activities’
■ Jack Dorsey tells Elon Musk to release all ‘Twitter Files’ at one go
■ Tech majors, MNCs rethink office expansion plans


Delhi HC summons Ashneer Grover, Madhuri Jain in BharatPe case

BharatPe cofounder and CEO Ashneer Grover

The Delhi High Court on Thursday summoned BharatPe’s cofounder and former managing director Ashneer Grover and Madhuri Jain, the company’s former head of controls and Grover’s wife, over a lawsuit filed against them by the fintech firm.The court granted the couple two weeks to file a reply, and the case is expected to be heard starting January.

Court drama: At a hearing on Thursday, BharatPe’s counsel took issue with certain tweets by Grover and Jain, arguing that they have been running a “vicious and vitriolic campaign” against the company.

Grover’s counsel claimed that the lawsuit was never served to them.

Catch up quick: BharatPe filed a criminal case against Grover and Jain on 17 counts, including criminal breach of trust, and embezzlement of funds, as well as a civil suit that sought Rs 80 crore in damages, a source told us.

The company has been under intense scrutiny since Grover sought damages from Kotak Mahindra Bank managing director Uday Kotak in January, claiming the bank refused him financing for a personal investment in Nykaa’s IPO last November.

Soon after, BharatPe’s board hired A&M and PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit the firm after receiving complaints from a whistleblower on alleged financial malpractice and corporate misgovernance.

This led to the ouster of Jain in late February. Grover resigned from the company and its board at the end of March.


Over 3,000 crypto accounts face scrutiny for ‘illegal activities’

Crypto exchange

India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) tracked 3,300 crypto accounts in the past eight months that it suspected were being used for money laundering, drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

Under the scanner: A senior official said the list of accounts has been shared with the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Three digital asset management companies are under the scanner, according to a source in FIU.

Enforcement agencies have already raised requests for closure of the India-based accounts.

FIU has also reached out to international agencies and recommended that these accounts be shut down.

Dark money: A senior FIU official said the majority of transactions by these accounts were linked to drug trafficking, money laundering, child pornography and wildlife smuggling, with many dating back to 2019.

Cryptocurrency exchange platform WazirX last week said it had blocked over 700 accounts between April and September, based on directives from law enforcement agencies and internal assessments of alleged irregularities.


Jack Dorsey tells Elon Musk to release all ‘Twitter Files’ at one go

Jack Dorsey

As the world awaits the second tranche of Twitter Files, former CEO Jack Dorsey urged Elon Musk to release all the leaks at one go, without a “filter”.

He tweeted on Thursday, “If the goal is transparency to build trust, why not just release everything without a filter and let people judge for themselves? Including all discussions around current and future actions? Make everything public now. #TwitterFiles”


Musk replies: The billionaire owner of Twitter replied, “Most important data was hidden (from you too) and some may have been deleted, but everything we find will be released”.

What are ‘Twitter Files’? They are a set of leaked documents highlighting internal communication at Twitter regarding a New York Post article published in 2020 about then-Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

According to the documents released by independent journalist Matt Taibbi, Twitter tried to censor the article on requests from the Democratic Party.

Twitter Blue to cost $11 on iOS: In related news, Twitter reportedly plans to increase the price of a Twitter Blue subscription from $7.99 to $11, if paid for through its iPhone app.

The move was likely a pushback against Apple’s 30% cut on in-app payments on iOS, as per a report by The Information.


Tech majors, MNCs rethink office expansion plans

bringing back employees

Amid a funding slowdown and economic uncertainty, many domestic and multinational companies, including tech majors, are rethinking their workplace strategies, which include establishing campuses and acquiring large office buildings around metros.

Quote unquote: “While 2022 is well-geared to close on a high note, the India office market is likely to see some rationalisation in demand in 2023. Companies are putting a hold on new hiring as they brace up to keep costs under check due to looming recessionary conditions and slower growth in major economies,” said Ramesh Nair, chief executive, India at commercial real estate services firm Colliers.

WFH impact: According to the real estate head of an MNC, “A majority of the IT and ITeS workforce continues to work from home, and it is inevitable for companies to relook at space utilisation as they formulate next year’s strategy.”

Meanwhile, commercial realtors said IT and ITeS firms had fewer than 30% of employees working from offices.


Infographic Insight: startup funding dips 35% in 2022

Retail and fintech are among the worst-affected sectors amid the ongoing funding winter, as total funding in the Indian startup ecosystem has fallen 35% year-on-year in 2022 (as of December 5), according to a report by startup data platform Tracxn.

Massive drop: Investments in the retail and fintech sectors dropped 57% and 41%, respectively, from last year. Yet, these two sectors and enterprise applications remained the top fundraisers during the year.

Only 11 startups have gone public in 2022, down from 16 last year.

Annual funding trends

Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Zaheer Merchant and Megha Mishra in Mumbai. Graphics and illustrations by Rahul Awasthi.





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