Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Senior Vice President at Paytm, told Moneycontrol that it all started around 11 am on September 20 when Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm's founder received a call from a Thailand-based number while he was in Japan.
An extortion bid and a threat to leak out "some photos and personal financial details" have led to the arrest of Sonia Dhawan, a long-time secretary of Vijay Shekhar Sharma and the vice president, corporate communications of online payments firm Paytm.
Others arrested are her husband Rupak Jain and an admin person Devendra Kumar. The fourth accused Rohit Chomal is on the run even as the UP Police has left for Kolkata to nab him.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Senior Vice President at Paytm, said that it all started around 11 am on September 20 when Vijay Shekhar Sharma received a call from a Thailand-based number while he was in Japan.
"The person claimed he had my brother's personal data and demanded Rs 20 crore for not leaking it. My brother avoided even as the other person called for four-five times. At the end of it, my brother suggested that he should speak to me since he was busy," said Ajay Shekhar Sharma.
While speaking to Ajay Shekhar Sharma, the caller, who is alleged to be the fourth accused Rohit Chomal said that he had Vijay Shekhar Sharma's "personal data" and if he didn't pay up the money he would leak the data.
While Sharma has alleged that the data under question included "photos and personal financial details", there is no immediate clarity on the nature of pictures or any other details of the data.
Dhawan has been associated with the company for almost a decade. She started off as a personal assistant to Vijay Shekhar Sharma and rose to become the head of the public relations at the company over the years.
She is known to be one of the closest aides of Vijay Shekhar Sharma which explains how she had an easy access to his laptop and mobile devices.
Over the call, the person, allegedly demanded that the payment should be made through Hawala so that there wasn't a trace. But on Sharma's denial stating they did not have cash and would transact online, the accused shared a bank account number which was held by a company named Apnapan Tieup Pvt Ltd.
Sharma first credited Rs 67 to ensure that the remittance was happening. Later, he transferred Rs 2 lakh in the account.
However, the demand for Rs 20 crore was constant.
Ajay Shekhar Sharma alleged that on being pressurised for details Chomal blurted out the names of Dhawan, Jain, and Kumar stating that they were the people behind the plot.
While Dhawan's role ensured that she had an access to Sharma's data, there wasn't any immediate clarity if there was any other motive apart from monetary which led to this episode.
Moneycontrol is trying to reach out to the lawyers of the accused. The story will be updated once we hear from them.
Dhawan is alleged to have shared the entire data with Kumar who travelled to Kolkata to fix a deal with Chomal.
According to Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Kumar travelled to Kolkata multiple times during this period.
The company then filed a complaint with the police who pursued the investigation for over a month following which they arrested the three accused on October 22.The four people have been charged with theft, extortion, cheating, criminal breach, besides being charged under the Information Technology Act.