BharatPe turbulence: Ashneer Grover's Delhi airport showdown
Grover expresses utter surprise at the travel restriction.
Formermanaging director Ashneer Grover and his wife, Madhuri Jain, were halted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport late Thursday, responding to a look-out circular issued by the Economic Offence Wing (EoW) of Delhi Police, as per the Economic Times. They were en route to New York when stopped by Delhi police.
Joint Commissioner Sindhu Pillai clarified–“They were detained before security check and asked to return to their Delhi residence and join the probe at the EOW office at Mandir Marg next week." She further added, “They have yet not been arrested."
This comes in response to the Delhi Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW)’s filing of a first information report (FIR) against Ashneer Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain, and other family members in May 2023 on the grounds of illicit payments to sham HR consultancies linked to Grover and Jain’s family and accusations of invoice tampering.
Grover, however, refuted these claims, and expressed utter surprise at the travel restriction–“I found it strange as I have travelled 4 times internationally since FIR filed in May - never been a problem and I had not even been summoned once.”
Earlier this week, the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) issued a lookout circular (LoC) amidst their ongoing investigation into an alleged fraud case involving BharatPe. The accusation suggests co-founder Ashneer Grover and his family perpetrated Rs 88.67 crore fraud, by using backdated invoices to divert funds for purported services never rendered to the fintech unicorn.
The EOW's probe indicates a payment of ₹7.6 crore by BharatPe to eight HR consultants associated with the accused between 2018 and 2021. However, several recipient firms of BharatPe's vendor payments remain untraceable, adding complexity to the investigation.
One of Grover’s tweets read–“I’ll be last man standing long after ‘BharatPe’, Sequoia (oh sorry they already wrapped up in India), 2 takke ke anpadh press vaale and ‘Twitter’ judges are gone! Mark my words !!”
The round of controversies continued with Grover engaging in a verbal spat with CapitalMind's Deepak Shenoy following Shenoy's tweet alleging fund diversion through family-based recruitment services.
In his response, Grover stated, “…₹53 crore ki entry mil gayi sir. You’ve great memory in addition to judgement. But sir yeh paise to investors ne hi bheje the mujhe – as part of Series E round. To ab aap jaldi se clean chit de do mujhe – asli court mein bahut kaam aayegi…”
While Grover stepped down in March 2022, he claimed that his ouster from BharatPe was a conspiracy.
Following the December 2022 complaint, BharatPe's co-founders Bhavik Koladiya and Shahvat Nakrani lodged several legal complaints against Ashneer Grover in January and March 2023, respectively, over share disputes.
Grover confirmed receipt of the summons on X (formerly Twitter), expressing his willingness to cooperate “as always”.
The EOW is probing in depth. If found guilty, Grover, Madhuri, and others involved could face sentences of life imprisonment up to 10 years.
Sources: Mint, The Economic Times