Solidarity in strife: Ashneer Grover tells Sam Altman, 'I'm going through the same things in India'

Accused of misappropriating BharatPe funds, the Grover couple were stopped at Delhi airport on Thursday. Grover has since gone on all out in attacking his adversaries

Ashneer Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover (Photo: IANS)
Ashneer Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover (Photo: IANS)

Aditya Anand

In a striking display of empathy amidst the volatile landscape of corporate upheavals, Ashneer Grover, the co-founder embroiled in a legal maelstrom with BharatPe, expressed heartfelt solidarity for Sam Altman, the ousted CEO of OpenAI and co-founder of ChatGPT.

As news of Altman's removal reverberated earlier in the day, Grover took to social media to convey a profound understanding, stating, "Sam - I am going through the same things in India." This unexpected connection between two high-profile figures, each grappling with their professional tribulations, provides a poignant glimpse into the shared challenges faced by leaders navigating turbulent waters in the tech and fintech spheres.

BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover and his wife, Madhuri Jain, have been summoned by the Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for questioning in connection with an alleged Rs 81-crore fraud at the fintech unicorn. The couple must appear at the EOW's Mandir Marg office on November 21 to participate in the ongoing probe, which was initiated based on a complaint filed by BharatPe.

This development unfolded shortly after Grover claimed in an online post that he and his wife were stopped at the Delhi airport on Thursday en route to New York for vacation. EOW officials confirmed the summons, citing a lookout circular issued against them.

In May, The EOW filed an FIR alleging fraud against Grover, Madhuri Jain, and other family members. BharatPe asserted that the accused caused substantial damages through various illicit activities, including payments to bogus human resource consultants, inflated transactions with passthrough vendors, sham transactions, illegal payments to travel agencies, and the destruction of evidence.

Sources from the EOW disclosed that a status report was filed in court on 7 November, and if convicted, the accused could face between 10 years to life in prison.

In December 2022, BharatPe filed a civil suit in the Delhi High Court seeking Rs 88.67 crore in damages from Grover and his family for alleged cheating and embezzlement of funds.

Amidst these legal troubles, Grover expressed solidarity with Sam Altman, who was ousted as CEO of OpenAI. In a post on X, Grover said, "Sam - I am going through the same things in India," referencing Altman's removal from OpenAI following a review that found inconsistencies in his communications with the board.

Furthermore, Grover took to Twitter to advise Altman on the challenges that might lie ahead, stating, "First they come after your role/shares - then they come after you personally. It’s a long fight! Stick on."

In a separate tweet, Grover criticised company boards, calling them "puppets of investors."

Earlier in the day, taking to LinkedIn, Grover revealed that BharatPe withdrew its sponsorship of the ICC World Cup 2023, a deal worth $27 million, citing mismanagement under Rajnish Kumar, the former SBI chief. He accused the management of spending $10 million on lawyers against him but not having the same amount for the World Cup sponsorship. Grover alleged that Kumar joined MasterCard's India Board around the same time, raising questions about the decision to hand over the sponsorship to MasterCard.

The ongoing saga involving Grover and BharatPe unfolds as legal proceedings and public statements reveal the complex web of accusations and counter-accusations.

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