BharatPe Fraud: Ashneer Grover, wife Madhuri stopped at Delhi airport

PTI, Nov 17, 2023, 4:20 PM IST

Image Credit: X/@Ashneer_Grover

BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain were stopped at the Delhi international airport following a look out circular issued against them in the alleged fraud at the fintech firm, sources said.

The couple were to travel to New York late on Thursday for vacation when they were stopped at the airport on the basis of a look out circular issued by the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) of the Delhi police.

EoW is investigating complaints of payments being made at BharatPe to fake human resource consultancies allegedly operated by Grover and family. They have also been accused of backdating invoices to use funds.

Grover in a post on X confirmed being stopped at the airport.

He however said he had not received any communication or summons from EoW since the FIR was filed in May.

”I had not received any communication or summons from EOW since FIR in May till 8 AM today 17 morning (7 hours after returning from airport),” he said. ”I was going to US from 16-23 November.” After being stopped at the airport, he was asked to return home.

”At immigration they said LoC laga hua hai sir – EOW se check kar ke batate hai (At the immigration, they said LoC has been issued and they need to check with EoW),” he said. ”I found it strange as have travelled 4 times internationally since FIR filed in May – never been a problem and I had not even been summoned once.” The flight left in the meantime and EoW asked immigration to allow the duo to return home, he said.

”Today morning EOW summon was home delivered – will cooperate as always,” he added.

While sources said he had protested when the couple were stopped at the airport, Grover said there was ”no drama.” ”LOC hatane ka process hai (there is a process to get LOC revoked) – I am not a flight risk – easy to prove,” he added.

The EoW in May filed an FIR against Grover, his wife Madhuri and family members Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain and Shwetank Jain for an alleged Rs 81 crore fraud after a complaint by fintech unicorn BhartPe.

BharatPe in the complaint alleged that Grover and his family caused damages of about Rs 81.3 crore through illegitimate payments to bogus human resource consultants, inflated and undue payments through passthrough vendors connected to the accused, sham transactions in input tax credit and payment of penalty to GST authorities, illegal payment to travel agencies, forged invoices by Madhuri and destruction of evidence.

If convicted, Grover, Madhuri and others can face up to anything between 10 years to life imprisonment.

In December 2022, BharatPe had also filed a civil suit with the Delhi High Court against its former MD and co-founder Grover and his family, seeking up to Rs 88.67 crore in damages for alleged cheating and embezzlement of funds.

The suit, running into 2,800 pages, alleged that Grover, Madhuri and other family members created fake bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to provide services to the company and overcharged the company for recruitment.

Madhuri was the head of controls at BharatPe and was fired earlier in 2022 after a forensic audit revealed several irregularities. Subsequently, Ashneer Grover resigned as CEO in March 2022.

BharatPe, last year, hit the headlines when Grover was accused of using inappropriate language and threatening a Kotak Group employee for failing to secure an allotment and funding for the Nykaa IPO for himself and Madhuri.

Thereafter, BharatPe appointed Alvarez and Marsal, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and PwC to conduct a corporate governance review and determine whether Grover had committed willful misconduct.

This led to the ouster of Madhuri and Grover from the company and its board in March.

On May 10, 2022, BharatPe said that after a detailed review, the company had decided to take steps against employees involved in misconduct and claw back Grover’s restricted shares.

Grover has so far remained defiant and attacked anyone reporting on the investigation by EoW.

”Don’t pronounce me dead till 13 days after you’ve burned me at the pyre !,” he said in the post on X on Friday.

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