Viral audio clip’s fake, says BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover

BharatPe cofounder and managing director Ashneer Grover on Thursday tweeted saying an audio-clip circulating on social media, which allegedly has him talking to a bank executive, is fake.
He claimed “some scamster” is trying to extort $240,000 in Bitcoins from him using this clip.

On Wednesday evening, an anonymous handle on Twitter—‘bongo babu’—had put up a SoundCloud link to an audio clip that was allegedly an argument between Grover, his wife, and an employee of Kotak Mahindra Bank where the BharatPe cofounder allegedly hurled expletives for missing out on share allotment during Nykaa’s initial public offering.
The audio-clip has not been independently verified by ET.

“Folks. Chill! It’s a FAKE audio by some scamster trying to extort funds (US$ 240K in bitcoins). I refused to buckle. I’ve got more character. And Internet has got enough scamsters :),” Grover tweeted on Thursday morning.

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Grover also shared screenshots of emails seeking money.

Over the past few weeks, Grover has been on the receiving end of criticism from various sections of the startup ecosystem after he lost his temper when an entrepreneur pitched an idea at Shark Tank India. Grover is one of the judges in the reality TV show inspired by an American series by the same name.

Last year, in a story detailing how
BharatPe partnered 44-year-old NBFC Centrum Finance to acquire a banking licence and make a play for the troubled PMC Bank, ETtech had reported, citing sources, that BharatPe’s investors were not comfortable with Grover’s “mercurial style” of leadership.

Grover had moved to assume the role of managing director at BharatPe in August 2021, timed with
its $370 million fundraise led by Tiger Global that tripled the fintech’s valuation to $2.85 billion. Further, BharatPe’s group president Suhail Sameer took over as the company’s chief executive officer, with Grover focusing on capital fundraising and strategy of the firm.

With access to PMC Bank, the New-Delhi-based fintech was devising plans to provide loans to its growing offline merchant base, as well as help them open new bank accounts, Grover had said earlier.

The company at present has more than 7.5 million merchant partners, and has been actively trying to diversify from its core-offerings of merchant-focused digital payments. Last year, it entered the customer focused loyalty payments space
after the acquisition of PAYBACK India. It also subsequently forayed into peer-to-peer (P2P) lending
with the launch of 12% Club, marking a big shift in the company’s strategy towards consumer products.

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