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Indian fintech BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer to leave top job

Suhail Sameer, the chief executive of BharatPe, will leave the top role later this week as the Indian fintech startup scrambles to steer the ship after kicking out its founder last year for allegedly misusing company funds.

The New Delhi–headquartered startup, backed by Sequoia India, Tiger Global, Coatue, Dragoneer and Ribbit Capital, said Sameer will transition to a strategic advisor role on January 7 and the current chief financial officer, Nalin Negi, will take over as the interim chief executive.

“We have recognized the need to dedicate time and resources to finding the leader who will continue to catapult BharatPe to new heights, and we are grateful for the commitment from Suhail and Nalin. We look forward to supporting Nalin Negi in his role as the interim-CEO, as we move ahead in our mission of empowering millions of MSMEs with a range of world-class financial products," said Rajnish Kumar, chairman of BharatPe Board, in a statement.

The move follows BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover being forced to resign last year after a rather odd public showdown with the startup's board, which alleged that he had misused company funds. The startup also sued Grover and his wife, Madhuri Jain, for damages worth $10.7 million last month.

Sameer took over as the CEO in the second half of 2021. As the relationship between the two soured, Grover alleged that Sameer had become the "board's puppet" as the startup probed allegations of fraud against Grover.

Half a dozen top-level executives, including a co-founder and the chief technology officer, have left the firm in the past six months.

Indian newspaper Mint first reported about Sameer's departure earlier Tuesday.

Sameer's departure is the latest in a series of setbacks at the Indian fintech, which once gave stiff competition to incumbents with its QR-code and payments solutions to merchants. BharatPe, once valued at $2.85 billion and which has raised over $580 million to date, continues to reel from the drama surrounding its founder's ouster and its public spats with him.

Rajnish Kumar, former chairman of State Bank of India, has sought to revamp the startup's management and leadership teams in the past two years but whether his bet will pay off remains unclear.