Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of India's largest e-wallet company, was allegedly blackmailed by his long-time personal secretary Sonia Dhawan. In her ten-year stint with Paytm, Dhawan started off as secretary and went on to head the corporate communications of the company.
According to Inc42, Sonia Dhawan along with her husband Rupak Jain and another Paytm employee Devendra Kumar have confessed to the extortion crime charge. However, Kolkata resident Rohit Chomal, who is the fourth accused, is absconding.
Sonia Dhawan allegedly hatched a plan to extort Rs 20 crore from the Paytm boss by threatening to leak his stolen personal data. Dhawan, a close confidant of Paytm chief, is accused of stealing 'personal data' from Sharma's laptop, phone and office desktop.
Ajay Shekhar Sharma, the Senior Vice President at Paytm and brother of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, told Moneycontrol that it all started around 11 am on September 20 when Vijay Shekhar Sharma received a call from a Thailand-based number while he was in Japan.
"The person claimed he had my brother's personal data and demanded Rs 20 crore for not leaking it. My brother avoided even as the other person called for four-five times. At the end of it, my brother suggested that he should speak to me since he was busy," Ajay Shekhar Sharma told the news portal.
Rohit Chomal had allegedly made the extortion call to Sharma's brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma.
While speaking to Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Chomal said that he had Vijay Shekhar Sharma's "personal data" and if he didn't pay up the money, he would leak the data. Sharma has alleged that the data under question included "photos and personal financial details".
Chomal is said to have asked for payment through Hawala to avoid any money trail. But on Sharma's denial stating they did not have cash and would transact online, the accused shared a bank account number that was held by a company named Apnapan Tieup Pvt Ltd.
Sharma reportedly said that after being threatened by Rohit, he deposited a sum of Rs 67 in the bank account of the accused to make sure the transaction was happening. Later, he transferred Rs 2 lakh in the account.
Ajay Shekhar Sharma alleged that on being pressurised for details, Chomal blurted out the names of Dhawan, Jain, and Kumar, stating that they were the people behind the plot, the report said.
The e-wallet major has said that all its consumer data is protected with the "highest and most impenetrable levels of security".
"This is a case of personal data theft of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, where three arrests were made yesterday... At this point, the law enforcement authorities are investigating this matter and we would like to respect the police investigation, and not comment further until the results of such investigation are known," Paytm said in a statement.
Dhawan's Twitter bio says that she is Head Communications at Paytm, Paytm Mall and Paytm Money. "Hard work is glory, everything else is theory," her bio reads.
The three employees of the Noida-headquartered e-commerce and wallet firm were arrested late Monday afternoon.
The FIR was registered at the Sector 20 police station and the accused were booked under Indian Penal Code sections 381 (theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master), 384 (extortion), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt), 420 (cheating), 408 (Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant) and 120 B (party to a criminal conspiracy).
Charges under the provisions of the Information Technology Act have also been pressed against the accused, the police said.
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