I’m stunned, I’ve always believed Sonia: Paytm CEO on blackmail

Shocked over the latest revelations, the Paytm boss says he wants answers to the extortion puzzle and expresses hope that police will unearth the actual truth.

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New Delhi: Breaking his silence for the first time since the news of data theft at Paytm came out, founder and chief executive officer Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Wednesday said he was shocked and wanted answers.

“I’m stunned and want to figure out the truth. I have always believed her (Sonia Dhawan, his secretary and one of the accused). It is possible that she has been used as a conduit. Cops will unearth the truth,” said Sharma.

Two Paytm employees – Devendra Kumar, a manager in the administration department and Dhawan, Patym’s vice-president of corporate communication – and Rupak Jain, Dhawan’s husband, were arrested for allegedly trying to blackmail Sharma and extort Rs 200 million. The blackmailers threatened they would leak his personal data.

The fourth accused, Rohit Chomal, who made the extortion calls from Kolkata, is absconding.

Also Read: Sonia’s monthly pay at Paytm went from ₹15,000 to ₹6 lakh: Family

Sharma said he hopes for the best outcome in the case. He added that as Dhawan had been named she should help the police. “We are on her side. But we have to help the investigation. When I spoke to her last, I asked her to help me,” he said.

“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],” he added.

Also Read: Secretary Sonia got extortion call of ₹5 cr like Paytm CEO: Lawyer

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.

Also Read: How did Paytm CEO’s secretary Sonia blackmail him for ₹20 crore?

“The information is sensitive and could help competition gain access to a lot of company’s secrets. The company has now gone international and this would affect detractors. This might have been a result of all that,” said the sources close to the company.

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