Investigation into the arrest of three persons, including a vice-president at Paytm, Sonia Dhawan, has revealed that she allegedly conspired to blackmail the company’s founder around two months ago, after her request for Rs 4 crore to buy a home was ignored, police said.
Police have identified the three arrested accused as Sonia, who started as the firm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s secretary and is currently vice-president, corporate communications/PR; her husband Rupak Jain, a property dealer; and Devendra Kumar, an employee with Paytm’s administration department.
A fourth accused, who is believed to have made extortion calls to Vijay and his brother Ajay, is on the run, police said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, SSP (Gautam Budh Nagar) Ajay Pal Sharma said: “Around two months ago, she asked her bosses for financial help to buy a flat. But they ignored it, which could have been a trigger.”
Sector 20 SHO Manoj Pant said, “It appears she had inside details on how the company grew over the years. She had obtained it over a year ago with Devendra’s help. It seems she also wanted to start her own company using the information.”
While Sonia and Rupak have claimed innocence, Devendra has admitted to his role. “Yes, I did copy data for them. They asked me. I do not know the nature of the data, but she (Sonia) was the one who roped me into the controversy,” he told The Indian Express while inside court. The three accused were sent to 14-day judicial custody by the District Court in Gautam Budh Nagar.
Police said it came to light during investigation that the fourth absconding accused, Kolkata resident Rohit Chomal, was Devendra’s friend. “He was hired after the trio allegedly assured him 20% of the extortion amount of Rs 10 crore… the phone numbers were provided to him by Devendra, who also visited Kolkata several times over the last month,” the SSP said.
“Ajay has submitted screenshots of their WhatsApp chats and recordings of calls. Police are sending it to the forensic science lab, after taking Devendra’s voice sample,” an officer said.
According to the FIR, Ajay’s complaint was filed at 11.52 am on Monday against four persons for allegedly trying to extort Rs 10 crore from his brother Vijay by threatening to leak stolen personal data and confidential information. “Rohit made the first call to Ajay on September 20, and then a WhatsApp call to his brother Vijay, demanding Rs 10 crore,” an officer said.
Sonia’s advocate Prashant Tripathi, meanwhile, said: “There are wide gaps in the police action, taken solely on the basis of the complaint. Our case’s premise will be based on the fact that there is a larger conspiracy at play and my client is being targeted.”