BharatPe has terminated the services of Madhuri Jain Grover, the head of controls at the fintech unicorn and wife of co-founder Ashneer Grover, on grounds of misappropriation of funds. The company has also cancelled the ESOPs vested with her. Following her ouster, Jain took to Twitter to take potshots at co-founder Bhavik Kolandiya, CEO Suhail Sameer, company’s chairman Rajnish Kumar, and even investor Sequoia and the venture capital firm’s managing director Harshjit Sethi.
After being sent on leave weeks ago, Jain’s contract was terminated over allegations of misappropriation of funds and authorisation of inflated bills, among other things, according to reports. Her termination was likely based on a governance review by risk advisory firm Alvarez and Marsal, which flagged payments to vendors and consultants that were non-existent.
Jain allegedly used company funds for personal beauty treatments, buying electronic items and family trips to the US and Dubai, according to a news agency report. She even paid her personal staff out of company accounts and produced fake invoices from acquaintances.
After being removed from the company, Jain took to Twitter to vent out her anger against the BharatPe top brass. Her series of tweets showed video clips from a party supposedly held at BharatPe offices, coupled with captions that question the ethics of co-founder Kolandiya and CEO Sameer. The posts try to paint the two BharatPe top functionaries in a misogynistic colour, questioning the latter’s seat on the governance review panel looking into the company.
BharatPe had roped in Alvarez and Marsal for conducting a governance review of the company last month. Last week, the firm said it has also hired PwC to look into the financial irregularities.
Jain also raised questions over the reliability of the governance review of the company and termed the actions against her “a perfectly executed witch hunt”. In other tweets, she also implicated Rajnish Kumar, the chairperson of BharatPe board and former chairman of State Bank of India.
BharatPe has been mired in controversies since last month when voice recordings of Ashneer Grover hurling expletives at a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee for failing to secure funds that he intended to invest in the Nykaa initial public offering. Since then, new skeletons have tumbled out of closet, revealing concerns over governance and due diligence at the company.
Grover, who amicably went on a hiatus, has drawn battle lines the BharatPe top executives, blaming CEO Sameer for colluding with the company’s investors and manipulating him into stepping away. The co-founder even sought his removal.
Before his wife, Grover too had verbally attacked Koladiya and Kumar in a letter to the board of Resilient Innovations, the parent of BharatPe. He alleged Koladiya of exploring parallel negotiations with him and being abusive when turned down. He had also called Kumar biased and prejudiced.
Grover has also laid down that he will exit from BharatPe in lieu of ₹4,000 crore for his 9.5% stake, and is reportedly in talks to sell the stake to an investor.
Meanwhile, amid rising troubles at the company, as many as 400 BharatPe employees are ready to leave. Their resumes are floating in the industry, as anxious employees across sectors such as business, finance and technology are lining up for an exodus, as per reports.
In an attempt to assuage employee concerns, CEO Sameer has assured that BharatPe has enough cash reserves at its disposal — $500 million in the bank, including $100 million invested in Unity Small Finance Bank – that is four times what has been spent on building BharatPe over the last three years.
The attrition antithesis to the company’s condition around mid-2021, when it managed to bolster its position in the talent wars with a flurry of opulent incentives, including BMW superbikes, flashy gadgets including AirPods, Galaxy Watch, along with a “work-ation” in Dubai for the T20 World Cup. With a new storm hitting the company every week, employees seem to be disillusioned with the work culture, which some blamed was even toxic.