OVER the last one week, a leaked voice recording allegedly of BharatPe’s co-founder Ashneer Grover abusing a Kotak Mahindra bank employee has been the talk of the town. He initially denied that the recording was his, claimed that there had been attempts of extortion of money from him, then deleted that statement from Twitter and eventually both parties have lodged legal complaints to get to the bottom of this.
But First, What Is This Recording All About?
On January 5, an anonymous Twitter handle put out an audio clip saying “how rich founders treat poor bank employees” which allegedly was a conversation between Grover and a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee. In the audio, Grover could be heard abusing and hurling expletives at the employee, for not receiving a share allotment of the Nykaa IPO.
Grover could even be heard threatening to have the employee “killed in an encounter”. However, the clip has thereafter been deleted from SoundCloud.
Remind Me, Who Is Ashneer Grover Again?
Ashneer Grover is the Managing Director and co-founder of BharatPe, a fintech company. BharatPe serves over 75 lakh merchants across 150 cities and has raised over $ 650 million in equity and debt so far.
Grover was recently seen as part of the judges’ panel on the Shark Tank India show, the Indian adaptation of the global business reality show. After the recording went viral, people called for his removal from the panel. Grover is also known to be vocal in the startup ecosystem in India.
So What Did Grover Say About This Clip?
In a tweet on January 6, that has since been deleted, Grover said, “Folks. Chill! It’s a FAKE audio by some scamster trying to extort funds (US$ 240K in bitcoins). I refused to buckle. I’ve got more character. And Internet has got enough scamsters :)”
He added screenshots that suggested that there had been an attempt to extort money from him, in return for changing public perception.
What Did The Kotak Mahindra Bank Have To Say?
A report by Mint went on to confirm the incident. The Kotak Mahindra Bank has said it is looking at legal options against Grover for using “inappropriate language” in a call with its employee.
What it also brought to light, was a legal notice that the Grovers, Ashneer and his wife Madhuri, had sent to the company about not having received financing for Nykaa IPO share allotment.
What Is This Legal Notice About?
According to a MoneyControl report, the notice was sent on October 30, 202, but assumes more significance now, in the aftermath of the leaked phone call.
The notice has sought damages for the gains Grover and his wife would have made after subscribing to shares worth Rs 500 crore in the company besides Rs 1 lakh towards the cost of the legal notice.
According to the legal notice, while Kotak had informed Grover and his wife that the subscription formalities for the Nykaa IPO was done, they were soon informed that it would not be able to provide the IPO financing due to ‘erratic FII movements’ and ‘very high lending rates’.
In simple terms, the Grovers applied for a loan Kotak was supposed to grant, for the IPO shares, but that loan was never approved. That led to the legal notice, and also sparked the rage on the call.
The Kotak group’s statement said that the bank had responded to that notice, while taking cognisance of inappropriate language used. They also denied any breach or violation in the deal with the Grovers.