BharatPe issued a statement denying that any employee was fired after rumours swirled on social media about Ashneer Grover's exit from the company.
"The board of BharatPe has not terminated the services of any employee at this stage. Reports suggesting any termination are baseless and untrue," a BharatPe spokesperson said in a statement on January 29.
"The Board remains committed to an independent and thorough audit process. No action has been taken or will be taken till the audit has been completed," the spokesperson added.
Moneycontrol reported on January 28 that even Grover's wife Madhuri Jain Grover, Head of Controls at the $3 billion fintech had also been sent on leave as scrutiny over the company’s practices grew.
While Grover was sent on a leave of absence till March-end amid backlash regarding his abusive language to a Kotak employee and toxic culture at BharatPe, his wife also going on leave signified larger issues around governance at BharatPe.
The company has appointed management consultant and risk advisory firm Alvarez and Marsal to advise the board on its recommendations. It is learnt to be conducting full scale investigation on company’s practices, including accounting, approval processes, expenses and hiring.
The board has been looking into issues, including invoices possibly being over-inflated and some vendors possibly being fake, said a person directly aware of the matter, who did not want to be named. This person also suggested the possibility that when a merchant recorded a transaction, BharatPe may have inflated the value of these transactions.
Grover's fortunes have rapidly unravelled in the last two weeks, from being recognized as the founder of one of India's hottest startups to being blamed for all that is wrong with the Indian startup ecosystem. Things escalated after Moneycontrol reported on January 9, 2022, that Ashneer Grover and his wife sent a legal notice to Kotak Mahindra Bank MD and CEO Uday Kotak, and his senior management, accusing the bank of failing to secure financing and allocation of shares in an IPO launched by beauty firm Nykaa.
Kotak Group in turn alleged that Grover used foul and threatening language towards its employees and that it reserved the right to take legal action against him.Moneycontrol reported earlier that BharatPe’s board of directors - investors from Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, Coatue Management, and senior bankers-- ex-SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar and ex-Union Bank Chairman Kewal Handa-- were unanimously insisting that Grover needs to leave for some time. They saw this as a personal issue and hence decided to send him on leave instead of firing him. While the altercation with Kotak was of a personal nature, Grover’s rude demeanor has previously antagonized investors and senior employees.