Sequoia asks court to dismiss defamation lawsuit by its former counsel

Sequoia India claims that its right to freedom of speech prevails over its former legal counsel's 'right to reputation' regarding alleged financial disparities.

In a new court filing, Sequoia India has asked the court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from its former legal counsel, Sandeep Kapoor of Algo Legal. Sequoia is arguing that its right to inform their portfolio companies of financial irregularities pertaining to Algo Legal trumps the legal firm's "right to reputation".

In a filing seen by Reuters, Sequoia said its "right to freedom of speech prevails over the plaintiff’s right of reputation since the statement was issued without any malice and without any intention to defame".

Sandeep Kapoor's lawsuit pertained to a notice Sequoia had sent out earlier this month saying that it had cut ties with Algo Legal due to "concerning incidents" found during an internal probe. In a press release, Algo had called this a baseless reference, and this forms the basis of its defamation suit.

Sandeep Kapoor had been Sequoia's in-house counsel for nine years until 2019, and Sequoia only ended its engagement with Algo in January 2022.

In the new court filing, Sequoia has specified the incidents that caused their worry. According to an internal probe at Singapore startup Zilingo, the company had paid Algo and related entities over $6 million between 2020 and 2022. Over the same time period, the probe had also noticed financial irregularities within Zilingo that led to founding CEO Ankiti Bose's dismissal earlier this year.

A Bengaluru court will hear the matter on June 29.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai