The abusive call audio allegedly featuring the founder of BharatPe raises questions

The abusive call audio allegedly featuring the founder of BharatPe raises questions

The leaked audio clip, which first surfaced online Wednesday through anonymous social media, shows a conversation in which Grover repeatedly abused and threatened to kill a Kotak employee in a so-called police standoff, or extrajudicial killing, for failing. In securing the allocation of funding for the public offering of the “NC”.

Grover, who initially said through his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts that the clip was fake, then deleted that claim. BharatPe did not deny that the audio was original, choosing instead to say he would not comment on the matter and did not wish to respond to “unfounded allegations on social media”. Kotak has not commented on the incident. Grover and the Kotak employees mentioned in the clip did not respond to requests for comment.

Mint is unable to independently verify the authenticity of the clip. But two people who are close to the developments and in a position to know, said that the conversation that appeared in the rolling clip did indeed take place. They asked not to be named for fear of faltering business relations. Our reports were also able to relate the chain of events and past relationships that led to the flashpoint.

A joint venture between BharatPe and Centrum Financial Services has been licensed for a microfinance bank by the Reserve Bank of India and operates Unity Small Finance Bank. It is expected to take over the troubled Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank.

Grover is also currently appearing on Shark Tank India, a TV show in which startups present investments in front of a panel of investors called Sharks.

Bharat Pe is one of the largest digital payments companies in India and its investors include Sequoia Capital, Ribet Capital, PENEXT, Quatu, Stedview, Tiger Global and others. In October last year, the company appointed former Chairman of the Board of Directors Rajneesh Kumar as its Chairman.

“Wonderful, it’s a fake sound”

On January 5, an anonymous Twitter user called “bongo babu” posted an audio clip showing Grover abusing a Kotak Bank employee and threatening to kill him for failing to receive provisions during Nykaa’s initial public offering.

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

The leaked clip led to a backlash on social media and questions about the prevailing work culture in Bharatbi. In response to the backlash, Grover, Thursday morning, posted a statement on Twitter, claiming that the audio clip circulating on social media is fake.

“Oh, people. Goosebumps! It’s a fake sound by a scammer trying to extort money ($240,000 in bitcoins). I refused to hook up. I have more personality. Enough scammers on the internet,” Grover said on Twitter.

Along with the statement, he placed screenshots of an email exchange with an anonymous account named Unicon Baba, which is seen as offering marketing services for a fee. But on Friday, Grover deleted the post from his social media accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn, without explanation.

The center is Kotak

A Kotak employee who receives threats and abuse Grover, who can be heard speaking as Sushruta in the clip by both Grover and his wife, is Sushruta Arora, associate vice president at Kotak Wealth Management, according to the two people. The above-mentioned. People said the Kotak employee referred to as Rohit in the clip is Rohit Mohan, senior manager of Ultra High Networth Individual Practice at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

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

Arora and Mohan did not respond to messages via text messages and LinkedIn. The CEO of Kotak Weath Management did not respond to an email requesting comment.

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

“Mohan was the one who initially introduced Grover to Centrum. So, when he quit Centrum to join Kotak last year, Grover gave Kotak the mandate to manage his personal fortune. Centrum still manages BharatPe’s money, but Ashneer’s personal fortune is now run by Kotak” , said the first two people cited above.

Underwriting Financing

The dispute that is the subject of the controversial audio clip is a burgeoning credit facility called IPO financing, in which banks make loans that can be used to bid for shares in an initial public offering. With a very active IPO market and investors chasing gains upon listing, also called POPs, it has emerged as one of the most popular offerings for wealth management companies.

In an interview with CNBC TV18 in July last year, Grover said he had placed a personal order of Rs 150 crore in the initial public offering of Zomato via the NII (Non-Institutional Investor) segment through Kotak Wealth Management. He said he has been building $100 million for IPOs in Delhivery, Nykaa and Policybazaar, adding that he is putting his personal savings into IPO financing leverage and is looking to apply for the $15 million plus in each IPO raised. in technology.

“There is an ongoing dispute between Kotak and Grover over the financing of the initial public offering,” said the second of the two above. He added that it was not the stock allocation that Grover was talking about in the audio clip but the allocation of the underwriting funding funds.

A senior industry official, working closely with investment advisors at Cutack, explained how underwriting financing worked.

“Suppose the IPO is Rs 1,000 crore, but due to the extended interest, there is likely to be an offer of Rs 5,000 crore. So every investor (small investor) who wants to have a maximum of 2 lakhs (individual investors are allowed to apply for a on an allocation of no more than Rs2 lakh) in five such offers. Even if they get a 20% allocation, it will be 2 lakhs. The bankers know this and they know the money will come back. Hence, they go ahead and fund 9 lakhs out of 10 lakhs because Totally safe…so, the investor doesn’t have to put up the money and pay interest for those 10 days or so. The investor hopes to make up for that when the stock opens at a premium.”

While the Rs2 lakh cap does not apply to HNI who apply in the NII tranche of IPOs, the principle of bidding on more contracts to maximize your chances remains the same.

“The higher you bid, the higher the chances of allocating an IPO. In this case, a large loan was made that could then be used to bid for the purchase of Nika shares. However, the money was ultimately not delivered at the last minute. Grover is upset by the fact that Kotak promised him the allotment and so He has not reviewed anyone else….”

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