The recent extortion episode involving Paytm Vice-President of Communication, Sonia Dhawan, may have broken Paytm Co-Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma's trust but he still believes she might have been used as a conduit in this whole blackmailing saga. Sonia, her husband Rupak Jain, and another employee of Paytm administration department, Devendra Kumar, have been sent to a 14- day judicial remand for allegedly trying to extort Rs 20 crore from the Paytm founder and his brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma. The fourth accused, Rohit Chomal, who allegedly made the extortion calls, is on the run.
Shocked over the latest revelations, the Paytm boss has said he wants answers to the extortion puzzle but expressed hope that police will unearth the truth. Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that he was "stunned and want to figure out the truth", reported Business Standard, which quoting him saying "I have always believed her." Sharma also expressed hope Sonia will cooperate with police to unravel the truth. He, in fact, assured that his company is still on her side. "But we have to help the investigation. When I spoke to her last, I asked her to help me," he told the newspaper.
Sonia Dhawan, believed to be a confidante of Sharma, reportedly played the role of a perfect insider to extort money from her boss. In fact, it was her constant advice to "just pay up" the extortion money that raised Sharma's suspicion, the Noida Police said. According to officials investigating the high-profile case, Dhawan controlled the extortion calls that her boss was besieged by and she allegedly tried hard to get him to pay up in order to protect the stolen personal data.
"She was in contact with both the parties. She knew these calls were coming. The complainant [Sharma] has told us she convinced him "ki abhi pay kar dijiye aap, kya pata kaisa data ho [pay up for now, god knows what kind of data may be there]," Ajay Pal Sharma, Noida's SSP told the Economic Times on Wednesday.
After her constant push to succumb to the blackmailers' demand, Vijay Shekhar Sharma got suspicious and alerted police officials. As per police, Sharma said Sonia was planning to buy a property in the Delhi-NCR area for herself. "When she did not see her communication getting materialised she perhaps opted for this route to make quick money," the police said. In fact, Sharma acknowledged the fact that Sonia had talked to him about buying an expensive house but that she never asked him for the money. Reports suggest the house Sonia was dreaming to buy might be worth over Rs 5 crore.
Meanwhile, Sonia Dhawan's lawyer Prashant Tripathi has alleged that she was being accused of selling her stake in the company. Sonia Dhawan holds ESOP (employee stock option plans) worth 0.004 per cent and 0.02 per cent in parent company One97 Communication and Paytm E-commerce Pvt Ltd, respectively. She joined Paytm in 2010 when she was offered around Rs 7 lakh annual package. Her annual package has now increased to over Rs 70 lakh per annum. On top of that, she owned equity shares worth Rs 10 crore in the company.
Edited by Manoj Sharma