Barely a day after Ashneer Grover, the beleaguered co-founder of BharatPe, tendered a lengthy, evocative and vituperative resignation, the board of the troubled fintech has sacked him from all positions — it no longer identifies him as a co-founder. “The board will not allow the deplorable conduct of the Grover family to tarnish BharatPe’ s reputation or that of its hard-working employees and world-class technology. As a result of his misdeeds, Mr. Grover is no longer an employee, a founder, or a director of the company,” reads a statement from BharatPe.
The board has also alleged Grover and his family of “extensive misappropriation” of company funds — an accusation that has been doing the rounds ever since the media was made privy to the preliminary findings of its review of the company’s corporate governance. “The Grover family and their relatives engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds, including, but not limited to, creating fake vendors through which they siphoned money away from the company’s expense account," the statement adds.
Grover has told Fortune India that he is “appalled but not surprised” by the “personal nature” of BharatPe’s statement. “I think the board needs to be reminded of $1 million of secondary shares investors bought from me in Series C, $2.5 million in Series D and $8.5 million in Series E,” he explains. Notwithstanding the hostilities, he wishes the company and the board a “speedy recovery”. “I hope the Board can get back to working soon; I as a shareholder am worried about the value created,” he adds.
BharatPe, maintained a stoic silence on the matter (and only exhorted the media to not engage in rumour-mongering), while Grover continued to use his gift of the gab. This time, however, the company has responded sharply. “Minutes after Mr. Ashneer Grover received notice that some of the results of the inquiry would be presented to the board, he quickly shirked responsibility by sending an email to the board submitting his resignation and fabricating another false narrative of the events to the public,” the statement reads, chastising Grover further for “spinning lies and hurling baseless allegations and threats”.
Grover, meanwhile, maintains that he has been vilified by the board. “The company’s statement comes from a position of personal hatred and low thinking,” he tells Fortune India, before lambasting the firms who were roped in. “I would also like to learn who among Amarchand, PwC and A&M has started doing audits on ‘lavishness’ of one’s lifestyle? The only thing lavish about me is my dreams and ability to achieve them against all odds through hard work and enterprise,” he adds.
The IIT-Delhi, IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, who wields a love-hate image for his abrasive behaviour on Shark Tank India, wrote in his resignation letter that the relationship of founders with their investors is that of a “slave”. “You treat us founders as slaves — pushing us to build multi-billion-dollar businesses and cutting us down at will. Investor-founder relation in India is one of master-slave. I am the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again,” he wrote.