Monday, May 20, 2024

2nd BharatPe founder to sue Ashneer Grover

NEW DELHI : After BharatPe founder Bhavik Koladiya, the other founder, Shashvat Nakrani, is set to sue the startup’s co-founder and former managing director Ashneer Grover over “unpaid shares”, two people aware of the matter said.

In March 2018, BharatPe was founded by Nakrani and Koladiya with each owning 50% in the firm. Grover joined the firm as a third co-founder and board member in July 2018, and purchased 3,192 shares —2,447 shares from Nakrani and 745 from Koladiya— for 10 apiece.

After the share transfer, the shareholding pattern of BharatPe changed—Koladiya had 42.5%, Grover (31.9%) and Nakrani owned 25.5%. As part of the transaction, Grover was to pay 24,470 to Nakrani and 7,450 to Koladiya. “In a lawsuit, Nakrani claims that Grover has not yet paid for the shares and, therefore, he is demanding his shares back,” one of the two people said. “After the stock split, the 2,447 shares are now 24,470 shares with each share valued at about 4 lakh,” he added.

A stock split is when a company issues additional shares without a change in the shareholders’ equity.

During the past five months, Grover has been the subject of five lawsuits.

In December 2022, Mint reported that BharatPe filed a civil suit against Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover,as well as relatives seeking 88.67 crore in damages. BharatPe also filed a criminal complaint against Grover and his family with the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police, alleging criminal breach of trust, conspiracy, cheating, forgery and destruction of evidence. It also filed an arbitration claim in Singapore to claw back restricted shares (1.4%) allotted to Grover and prevent him from using the title of a founder. In January, Koladiya had sued Grover reclaiming the shares transferred in December 2018. According to Koladiya’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, he had agreed to sell 1,611 shares worth around 87 lakh to Grover on 3 December 2018. The number of shares are now at 16,110. In the lawsuit, Koladiya claims that he has not been paid for his shares yet.

The confrontation between Koladiya and Grover was first reported by Mint.

During the first hearing, Justice Prateek Jalan directed Grover not to create third-party rights on the 16,110 shares in question, until further orders.

In December, a day after BharatPe sued Grover for fraud, Grover on Twitter wrote: “Doglapan: Shashvat (co-founder) to me. Bhai degree poori karni hai. Ek saal office bunk kar ke IIT poora kar leta hoon. Secondary kara dena aur salary bhi mat rokna investor ko mat batana. Shashvat to Board: No objection in filing case against Ashneer.

On learning about the fresh attack from another former partner, on Wednesday, Grover, tweeted: “I am a bit confused. As @bharatpeindia shareholder am I invested in a fintech or law firm ? Also, new case against Ashneer Grover every week is a feature or a product release ?!!”

In March 2022, Grover was ousted by the BharatPe board, and Nakrani said he allegedly tried to create a false narrative about the startup. He further backed the board saying it had acted ‘quickly and decisively’, adding that the action was taken to ‘uphold good corporate governance”.

Queries emailed to BharatPe, Nakrani and Grover did not elicit any answer till press time.

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