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Why Ashneer Grover was written to RBI’s Shaktikanta Das seeking probe into BharatPe

Ashneer Grover

, the co-founder and former managing director of BharatPe, has written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) requesting an investigation into the shareholding of the company. In a letter addressed to

RBI

governor

Shaktikanta Das

, Grover has alleged that

BharatPe

intentionally deceived the regulator by adding Bhavik Koladiya, who was convicted of wire fraud in the US, to the company’s cap table after obtaining licenses.

Grover resigned from the company in March 2022. BharatPe is a joint-venture partner in Unity Small Finance Bank with the Centrum group.
According to an ET report, Grover is seeking an investigation to determine if the company’s board and investors held Koladiya’s shares for a specific period of time before bringing him back into the company after receiving approvals from the central bank.
The practice of holding shares for a period of time before an entity acquiring a significant stake in a company is known as warehousing. Grover also questions whether BharatPe would have been deemed eligible for a stake in Unity Small Finance Bank or permitted to acquire a controlling stake in non-banking finance company Liquiloans if Koladiya had been part of the company’s cap table during the license application process. BharatPe has in-principle approval from the regulator for its payments aggregator business.
In his letter, Grover alleges that in 2022-23, co-founder Shashvat Nakrani transferred shares to Koladiya, who had been indicted in the US for wire fraud in 2013. Grover claims that Nakrani transferred 11.7% of the company’s shares, valued at approximately Rs 600 crore, to Koladiya without charge, as stated in the company’s annual reports.

If found guilty, Grover demands the revocation of all of BharatPe’s licenses and a ban on the company’s entire board of directors from holding positions in any RBI-regulated entity. He also calls for the blacklisting of venture firms associated with the fintech startup and the imposition of monetary penalties.
BharatPe, which provides QR code-based digital payments and loans, has raised about $600 million (approximately Rs 5,000 crore) to date and achieved a valuation of $2.7 billion in 2021. The company had been in talks to raise $100 million in fresh equity, but the deal did not materialize. Additionally, the company was seeking to raise Rs 500 crore in debt through non-convertible debentures.
On March 4, Grover sent a letter to the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing to dismiss the first information report filed against him for alleged fraud. He referred to the Deloitte audit report, which found no evidence of fraud. Previously, Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain were prohibited from traveling to London, and a look-out circular was issued against them on November 6, 2022.