In a fresh round of standoff, ousted BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover has demanded the immediate resignation of CEO Suhail Sameer and chairman Rajnish Kumar. Grover’s latest salvo came after Sameer’s comments on a LinkedIn post by a company employee, where Sameer alleged Grover has “stolen money” from the fintech start-up.
On Wednesday, an employee from BharatPe’s IT team said in a LinkedIn post that he had not receive his salary and other dues since March 2022. Responding to this post, Grover tagged BharatPe’s controller of finance Hersimran Kaur and CEO Sameer and demanded a look into the alleged salary credit lapses. Grover’s sister Aashima also commented on the post, calling out the company for alleged delays in processing salaries.
However, the LinkedIn conversation made headlines the next day after CEO Sameer responded to Aashima’s comment, saying: “Tere bhai ne saara paisa chura liya (your brother stole all the money). Very little left to pay salaries.” Sameer later issued a public apology for the comment. The LinkedIn post was also subsequently deleted by the BharatPe employee.
Friends, I apologise to have irked many of you. In hindsight, it was out of line. We are already working on past employees’ full and final being paid out. My comment was a reaction to a particular statement, not the post. But I accept the mistake. I request you to also have patience, and refrain from building a story based on a false narrative,” Sameer later said in a LinkedIn post.
Responding to the LinkedIn debacle, Grover penned down a lengthy note to the BharatPe board stating that Sameer’s conduct on social media was unprofessional and defamatory in nature.
His (Suhail Sameer’s) behaviour is unbecoming of any professional and brings disrepute to the office he occupies with tacit support from all of you…Suhail’s reply is not only blatantly defamatory, it is inappropriate language towards any female on social media and tone-deaf to the trials of a poor admin-level employee seeking his dues,” Grover said in his note.
He further said Sameer was under the influence of “alcohol and drugs” while commenting on the LinkedIn post, and sought an investigation by the board.
gAs a board which under the chairmanship of Rajnish Kumar has claimed to be the epitome of corporate governance, I would want to ask what action is the board going to take against Suhail Sameer? Going by precedents and self-proclaimed high standards of this board, the CEO should be immediately served a show-cause notice for his despicable public behaviour and immediately put on leave of absence to manage the damage on the brand of the company,” Grover said.
In addition, Grover also questioned Rajnish Kumar’s position on the LinkedIn post, seeking his immediate resignation from the board for allegedly causing trouble to Grover’s family.
gMoreover, the chairman Rajnish Kumar should immediately resign. The current incident clearly brings out the fact that Rajnish Kumar condoning the life threat to me by Bhavik Koladiya from his own house and all the planned media leaks leading to my resignation in self-respect, has further emboldened the current management to act as hooligans,” he added.
Grover also sought a written apology from Sameer to his sister and the board. “In absence of a written apology, I and my sister reserve our rights to seek damages and pursuing criminal defamation against Suhail Sameer and the BharatPe board. My sister, whose reputation has been irreparably damaged by this comment, will also be in her right to take up this with the Women’s Commission and appropriate authorities,” he said.
A bitter legal tussle between the BharatPe board and Grover began three months ago after an audio clip surfaced where he was allegedly heard hurling abuses at an employee of Kotak Wealth Management over the bank’s inability to secure financing for the IPO of Nykaa.