Sonia Dhawan, arrested for allegedly trying to extort Rs 10 crore from Vijay Shekhar, has had an enviable career record before she, along with her accomplices Rupak Jain and Devendra Kumar, was accused of threatening the Paytm founder — the youngest Indian billionaire, according to Forbes — of leaking confidential information of the company.
Dhawan is Vice President, Corporations/PR; Paytm and started her career in the company as Vijay’s secretary.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Sonia joined the company in January 2010. She had earlier worked as Business Operations Manager and Corporate Officer in Times Internet and Cairn India. As per a regulatory filing by One97 Communications Ltd — the parent company of Paytm — she held 1,400 shares in the company as of November 2017. Police said Sonia earned Rs 85 lakh per annum. Her social media pages are abuzz with success stories on Paytm. In one of her Facebook posts, when Paytm won ‘company of the year’ at SABRE PR awards in Hong Kong in 2017, she credits the accomplishment to “Sahab and our awesome team.”
On Monday, she was held by Noida police for allegedly trying to extort Rs 10 crore from him by threatening to leak his stolen personal data and confidential information about the company. Claiming innocence, Dhawan has said it was a conspiracy by Vijay, while investigation 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.
About the case, Sector 20 SHO Manoj Pant had said, “It appears she had inside details on how the company grew over the years.” The allegation left many wondering the details of the information in possession of Dhawan. Sources have told The Indian Express that payments of Rs 67 lakh and Rs 2 lakh were made to the accused to keep her mum. According to police, Vijay’s brother Ajay-who filed the FIR- later called the fourth accomplice Rohit over WhatsApp to confirm the payment. However, within 48 hours, the caller insisted on Rs 10 crore and threatened that his associates were ready to leak the data and information. Rohit is absconding.
But Sonia, whose Facebook and Twitter bio states ‘Hard work is glory, everything else is theory’, has said on the controversy: “there is more to it than meets the eye”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sonia said Tuesday: “I am blank right now. I am unable to process what has happened to us. They took us without prior notice. But I want Vijay Shekhar to answer me. There is more to it than meets the eye.” Her mother, Rama Dhawan, has said the controversy is a result of a “conflict, both personal and professional, between Sonia and Vijay.”
“A conflict between Sonia and Vijay had arisen over the last two months. The conflict was both personal and professional in nature. But Sonia was working like she would… If she had to threaten and blackmail… would she not have escaped,” she told The Indian Express.