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Paytm’s Sonia Dhawan ‘rejoins’ firm after 5 months in jail

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) A former top Paytm executive accused of data theft and extortion bid against SoftBank-backed company’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has rejoined the company in a surprising turn of events, said a senior Paytm employee on Thursday.

Sonia Dhawan had spent nearly five months in jail along with her husband Rupak Jain. She rejoined the company earlier this week, sources said.

The former VP Communications and Public Relations at the company had been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court earlier this month.

Dhawan attended office for over five hours on Tuesday and was last seen stepping out of the office with Paytm Vice President Sudhanshu Gupta at 6.45 p.m. at Noida Sector-5.

“It was Sudhanshu Gupta who reintroduced Dhawan to the senior executives of the company. Dhawan also spent some time in her previous office cabin located besides Gupta’s personal cabin on the second floor. She also met the company’s founder Vivek Shekhar Sharma whose office is also located on the same floor,” a senior company officer told IANS.

“Dhawan, who has been a long time secretary of Vivek Shekhar Sharma, was promoted last year as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations. The Paytm has not updated the employees’ list, so she does not figure in the office rolls. It is unclear whether Dhawan has been given the same responsibility as before her arrest,” he said.

“Dhawan wanted to continue working for the company with the same responsibilities. The top management is considering her request,” he added.

Sources said Vijay Shekhar Sharma has met Dhawan and may consider withdrawing his complaint against her and the other accused in the next hearing of the case in the High Court.

Dhawan has worked with Paytm for eight years.

Dhawan was arrested on October 22, 2018 after Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm senior Vice President and brother of Vivek Shekhar Sharma, had lodged an FIR against her, her husband Rupak Jain and other Paytm employees, including Rohit Chomwal, for stealing private data and trying to extort Rs 10 crore from Sharma.

Soon after her arrest, Dhawan’s lawyer had alleged that the promoters of Paytm were pressuring her to sell her stake in the company and that she had been framed.

Incidentally, the then Station House Officer (SHO), Manoj Pant of Sector-20 Police Station in Noida, probing the case was arrested along with two other journalists for allegedly extorting money from a city-based businessman. Some other policemen were later also suspended. Pant was also the investigating officer in the Paytm case.

Dhawan, in her plea before the high court, claimed innocence and stressed that nothing concrete was emerging against her.

Paytm is reportedly in the middle of raising around $1.5 billion from its existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund and Alibaba’s Ant Financial.

A report said following this funding round, the company could be valued between $16 bn and $18 bn.




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