Cofounder Bhavik Koladiya has sued Grover and BharatPe to claw back his shares in the company
The matter has been listed before Justice Prateek Jalan in the Delhi High Court
While Koladiya refused to comment on the matter, citing the sub-judice nature of the matter, Grover cannot be reached for the comment
In another twist to the BharatPe saga, the fintech major’s former cofounders are now at each other’s throats. Bhavik Koladiya has sued former managing director and cofounder Ashneer Grover and BharatPe in the Delhi High Court.
Koladiya has mounted a legal action against Grover and the company to claw back his shares in the company. The matter has reportedly been listed before Justice Prateek Jalan in the Delhi High Court.
Inc42 reached out to Koladiya, but he refused to comment on the matter. Meanwhile, Grover was unreachable for a comment.
At the centre of the debate is the fintech giant BharatPe, which was originally founded by Koladiya and Shashvat Nakrani in 2017. Grover joined the startup in June 2018 as the third cofounder.
When Grover joined the startup, he received 32% of the equity versus Koladiya’s 42.5% and Nakrani 25.5% stake. At that point in time, Koladiya was the face of operations, while Grover took care of the operations.
Subsequently, in December of 2018, as Sequoia joined BharatPe’s cap table, Koladiya’s name was dropped from the list of cofounders over concerns regarding Koladiya’s jail term in the US.
It is pertinent to note that Koladiya, who was running a grocery store in the US in 2007, was jailed for accepting digital payments without a license. After nearly two-year long judicial proceedings, Koladiya was released with a fine of $100 and deported to India in 2015.
After Sequoia’s investment, Koladiya took a back seat at the company and led the tech vertical as a consultant. The aftermath also saw the cofounders and other stakeholders arriving at an arrangement, and Koladiya transferring his stake in BharatPe to Grover, Nakrani and his father, and some early-stage and angel investors in December 2018.
Since then, Koladiya has been claiming that he had signed an agreement with Nakrani and Grover under which he ‘pledged’ his shares of BharatPe. Usually, people pledge shares to existing stakeholders with a call-option agreement, which allows a buyer to buy a particular asset from a seller for a specific period of time.
Interestingly, Koladya says that only Nakrani honoured his end of the deal, while Grover is yet to revert on the matter. According to the then BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer, he has no clue about Bhavik’s contract or if there was one.
As per Livemint, Grover purportedly holds shares worth over INR 1,000 Cr for Koladiya.
The drama surrounding the fintech major refuses to end. The row began last year after BharatPe roped in Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) to conduct a governance review of the company. The contents of the report were leaked, and, in the ensuing tussle, BharatPe’s head of controls and Ashneer Grover’s wife, Madhuri Jain Grover, was ousted from the company.
In the subsequent months, Grover resigned from the company, and a public row erupted that saw both BharatPe and Grover taking potshots at each other. Eventually in late 2022, BharatPe dragged Grover, his wife and other family members to the court in an INR 88.7 Cr defamation case.
BharatPe has also filed a criminal complaint against the Grovers with the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) on 17 charges, including alleged criminal breach of trust, forgery and document fabrication.
In a separate case, the fintech major has also approached the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to claw back Grover’s 1.4% unvested equity.
The story was first reported by The Economic Times.