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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

BharatPe files arbitration to claw back Ashneer Grover’s 1.4% shares

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Upping the ante, fintech unicorn BharatPe has filed an arbitration for clawing back it’s former MD and co-founder Ashneer Grover‘s restricted shareholding and founder title, sources said. The arbitration was filed on Thursday under Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) rules, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
If relief is granted, Grover may lose his unvested shares and right to use the founder title.

Grover, who BharatPe has accused of cheating and embezzlement of funds, holds about 8.5 per cent of the company. Of this, 1.4 per cent is not vested.

The company did not immediately offer any comment.
The action follows a detailed corporate governance review by the company’s board into allegations of lapses and misdoings during the tenure of Grover as managing director.
The arbitration proceedings were initiated after Grover refused to comply with the shareholders’ agreement, sources said without elaborating.

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This is BharatPe’s third legal action against Grover after a civil suit at the Delhi High Court and criminal complaint with the Economic Offences Wing.
BharatPe, in the suit running into 2,800 pages, alleged that Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain and other family members created fake bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to provide services to the company, and overcharged the firm for recruitment. It is seeking up to Rs 88.67 crore in damages.

The corporate governance review by Alvarez and Marsal, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and PwC led to the ouster of Jain, and Grover resigning from the company and its board in March.

Sources said the company had earlier sent a legal notice for clawback and has now initiated arbitration proceedings. Under the shareholder’s agreement, clawback of unvested shares can be triggered.

Grover holds roughly 8.5 per cent stake in BharatPe, of which 1.4 per cent was not vested and released on the date of his resignation.

In February, Grover‘s plea at SIAC on the investigation against him was rejected on all five grounds.

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