Abusive call audio allegedly featuring BharatPe founder raises questions

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Abusive call audio allegedly featuring BharatPe founder raises questions


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The leaked audio clip, which first appeared online Wednesday through anonymous social media handles, includes a conversation in which Grover repeatedly abuses and threatens to kill the Kotak employee in a so-called police encounter, or murder extrajudicial, for its failure. to secure the allocation of funds for the Nykaa IPO.

Grover, who initially said through his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts that the clip was fake, later dismissed that claim. BharatPe has not denied that the audio is authentic, and has chosen not to comment on the matter and would not like to respond to “baseless allegations on social media”. Kotak did not comment on the incident. Grover and Kotak employees. mentioned in the clip did not respond to comments.

Mint cannot independently verify the authenticity of the clip. But two people close to the developments and in a position to know, said that the conversation that appears in the clip that is circulating did happen. They asked not to be named for fear that trade links might be hampered. Our reports have also been able to link the chain of events and past relationships that led to the flash point.

A joint venture between BharatPe and Centrum Financial Services has obtained a license for a small financial bank from the Reserve Bank of India and operates Unity Small Finance Bank. Punjab and Maharashtra co-operative bank is expected to take over.

Grover also currently appears on Shark Tank India, a television show in which startups present investments to a panel of investors, called sharks.

Bharat Pe is one of the largest digital payment companies in India and has investors in Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, Beenext, Coatue, Steadview, Tiger Global and others. In October last year, the company appointed former SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar as chairman of its board.

“Call, it’s a FALSE audio”

On January 5, an anonymous Twitter user named “bongo babu” posted an audio clip in which Grover appears to be abusing and threatening to kill a Kotak bank employee for failing to obtain an assignment during the initial public offering (IPO). ) of Nykaa.

The audio clip titled “How Rich Founders Treat Poor Bank Employees” was allegedly a conversation between Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain and a Kotak Wealth Management employee.

The leaked clip provoked a reaction on social media and questions about the predominant work culture in BharatPe. In response to the reaction on Thursday morning, Grover made a statement on Twitter, claiming that the audio clip circulating on social media is false.

“People. Calm! It’s a FALSE audio of a scammer trying to extort funds ($ 240,000 in bitcoins). I refused to stick to it. I have more character. And the Internet has enough scammers, “Grover said on Twitter.

Along with the statement, he posted screenshots of an email exchange with an anonymous account called Unicon Baba, which is seen offering marketing services for a fee. But on Friday, Grover removed the post from his social networks on Twitter and LinkedIn, without any explanation.

The center is Kotak

The Kotak employee who is receiving Grover’s threats and abuse, and can be heard as Sushruta in the clip of both Grover and his wife, is Sushruta Arora, associate vice president of Kotak Wealth Management, according to the two people. cited above. The Kotak employee known as Rohit in the clip is Rohit Mohan, senior director of the practice of Ultra High Networth Individuals at Kotak Mahindra Bank, people said.

Both are former employees of Centrum India, with whom BharatPe is in a joint venture for Unity Small Finance Bank. According to his LinkedIn profiles, Mohan joined Kotak in April 2021, while Arora joined in June 2021.

Arora and Mohan did not respond to text and LinkedIn messages. The executive director of Kotak Weath Management did not respond to an email requesting comments.

Apart from JV banking, BharatPe and Centrum Group have had a long relationship. BharatPe’s investment portfolio is managed by Centrum Wealth Management.

“Mohan was the one who introduced Grover to Centrum initially. So when he left Centrum to join Kotak last year, Grover gave Kotak the mandate to manage his personal wealth. BharatPe’s money is still managed by Centrum, but Ashneer’s personal wealth is being managed by Kotak now, ”said the first of the two people mentioned above.

IPO financing

The dispute that is the subject of the controversial audio clip is a thriving credit facility called OPI financing, in which banks grant loans that can be used to offer shares in an initial public offering. With a hyperactive IPO market and investors chasing profits on the stock market, also called octopuses, it has become one of the most popular offerings of wealth management companies.

In an interview with CNBC TV18 in July last year, Grover said he made a personal request for Rs 150 crore on Zomato’s IPO through the NII (non-institutional investor) segment via Kotak Wealth Management. He said he was building a $ 100 million package for Delhivery, Nykaa and Policybazaar IPOs, adding that he would use his personal savings to leverage OPI funding and that he was seeking more than 15 millions of dollars in every IPO that occurs. in the technological space.

“There is an ongoing dispute between Kotak and Grover over the financing of the IPO (initial public offering),” said the second of the two people mentioned above. He added that it was not the allocation of shares that Grover talks about in the audio clip, but the allocation of the OPI funding money.

A senior industry official, who works closely with Kotak Investment Advisors, explained how OPI financing works.

“Let’s say the IPO is worth 1 billion rupees, but due to the extended interest, there is likely to be an offer of 5 billion rupees. So every investor (small investor) who wants to get their maximum of 2 lakhs (individual retail investors can apply for an allotment of no more than Rs2 lakh) must submit five such bids, so even if they receive a 20% allotment, it will be 2 lakhs The bankers know this and know that the money will come back, so they continue and finance the 9 lakhs of the 10 lakhs of supply because it is totally safe … so the investor does not have to contribute money and only pay the “The investor hopes to make up for it when the shares open with a premium.”

While the Rs2 lakh limit does not apply to HNIs that apply to the NII segment of IPOs, the principle of bidding more lots to maximize your chances remains the same.

“The higher you bid, the greater the chances of an IPO allocation. In this case, a large loan was granted which could then be used to raise the shares of Nykaa. However, the money eventually they were not given at the last minute. Grover is upset that Kotak promised him the assignment and therefore did not consult with anyone else, “he explained.

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