BharatPe CEO says interim governance report likely soon

Based on some internal complaints, Sameer said the company had decided to undergo a full audit of the corporate governance processes, and while many findings were “pretty standard” for a fast-growing company like BharatPe, there were a couple of more serious allegations that the audit firms were reviewing.

By Piyush Shukla

BharatPe chief executive officer Suhail Sameer, in an email to employees, said the interim corporate governance report by external auditors would be shared with the board within a “couple of weeks”. Based on some internal complaints, Sameer said the company had decided to undergo a full audit of the corporate governance processes, and while many findings were “pretty standard” for a fast-growing company like BharatPe, there were a couple of more serious allegations that the audit firms were reviewing.

The BharatPe board has appointed Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Alvarez and Marsal and PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the corporate governance audit. “Nothing which can’t be corrected going forward, and none of it has any bearing on the medium- to long-term health of the business. We expect the review partners (consultants) to share an interim report with the board in a couple of weeks,” Sameer said.

Sameer said BharatPe had $500-million capital in the bank, including $100 million that the fintech had invested in Unity Small Finance Bank, to continue operations going ahead. Despite recent issues, the fintech was still receiving two-three new conversation requests a week from funds looking to invest in the company. “While we don’t need to raise capital for a foreseeable future, it is great to know that both existing investors as well as potential new ones are keen to further support us, if we need the capital,” he said, adding that the company would head towards an initial public offering in the next two-three years. BharatPe did not respond to FE’s queries till the time of going to press.

BharatPe has been facing multiple headwinds since an alleged audio leak of the company’s co-founder, Ashneer Grover, surfaced on the internet. In the leaked audio, Grover could be heard hurling abuses at an employee of Kotak Wealth Management for missing out on financing for the IPO of FSN E-Commerce Ventures, which operates online fashion and wellness company Nykaa.

A day after the audio clipping surfaced on the social media, Grover issued a statement claiming that the viral clip was “fake” and that he was a victim of a “scamster” who allegedly released the audio on social media.

Later, media reports confirmed that he and his wife Madhuri had sent a legal notice to Kotak Wealth Management through law firm RegStreet Law Advisors. Following this, the Kotak group came out in support of the employee who was allegedly verbally abused by Grover over the phone. Kotak said in a media statement on January 10 that it intended to take legal action against the BharatPe co-founder over abusive language and death threats.

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