BharatPe’s original founder Bhavik Koladiya ‘pulled off the biggest data theft in India till date,’ the company’s estranged co-founder Ashneer Grover has alleged, accusing Koladiya of stealing details of around 150 million users of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) app.

Grover, BharatPe’s former Managing Director (MD), made the allegations in an email to the National Payments Council of India (NPCI), and Kaushik Dutta, the fintech firm’s independent director, reported Moneycontrol. The alleged data theft, he said, was brought to his attention by whistleblowers within the organisation.

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“It was a grave mistake of giving him a chance at redemption at Bharate Pe, which he used to pull off the biggest data theft in India till date,” Grover wrote, referring to Koladiya’s conviction in the United States in a credit card fraud case.

In the Feb 6 email, the 40-year-old accused Koladiya of a carrying out a ‘very systematic fraud.’

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“He formed another company in the name of his wife Dharti, by the name of ‘Otpless Solutions Private Limited’ in 2021, while he was still at BharatPe. He then transferred all the privileged and confidential data of BharatPe to this new company. Over time, he also hired BharatPe’s core team,” claimed Grover. He added that the fintech giant’s current management, under Chairman and former State Bank of India (SBI) chief Rajnish Kumar, is trying to silence the whistleblowers.

Speaking to Moneycontrol, Koladiya strongly denied the charge. “These are nothing but an act of retaliation and frustration on his part, resulting from his removal at BharatPe, and my ongoing legal suit against him at the Delhi high court. I take the privacy and secrecy of our users very seriously,” Koladiya said of Grover.

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BharatPe, too, said the allegations are ‘malicious and completely baseless,’ adding that it ‘fiercely protects the data of its customers.’

OTPless, it clarified, is its service provider that only enables verification via WhatsApp, and is currently used by less than 10% of the firm’s merchant base.

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