Ex-secretary said she stole data to extort ₹10cr from Paytm CEO


Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s digital e-commerce company Paytm has reinstated former employee Sonia Dhawan within a year of accusing her of money extortion. Sonia Dhawan, who “played an instrumental role in building the brands since inception”, according to the company statement, was accused by Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma for allegedly stealing data that could have “destroyed” the company and asking for Rs 10 crore. Sonia Dhawan, who led communications at Paytm earlier, has been repositioned as the Vice President (Corporate Communications) and was in police custody for four months. The police charge-sheet had serious allegations against Dhawan and others after Sharma’s brother filed an FIR on 22 October.

However, Gamepind Entertainment, a joint-venture between AGTech Holdings, an Alibaba Group company, and One97 Communications (Paytm’s parent company) later announced Dhawan’s return stating that “She comes with over a decade of experience in leadership roles across marketing, PR and corporate communications and has played an instrumental role in building the brands since inception,” according to a company statement on September 6, 2019.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma had earlier said that Dhawan wanted to build a company similar to Paytm as she was well-versed with the know-how of the internal workings at Paytm. “An enemy to blackmail us and set up a company similar to Paytm”. “This was Sonia Dhawan’s ambition. Because… she had access to the company’s internal workings and customer base, she wanted to use this to start a similar company,” the charge-sheet quotes him as saying, The Indian Express reported.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma had previously also said that he felt betrayed and said that Dhawan was promoted to Vice-President in April 2018, based on her “dedication and hard work”. Her compensation was also bumped to Rs 70 lakh, Shekhar said earlier. Sonia Dhawan later admitted her wrongdoings and according to the charge sheet under her name, she accepted stealing company data for the purpose of money extortion. “I have made a mistake, please forgive me,” according to the charge sheet, the newspaper reported.