SoftBank-backed ride-hailing company Ola
has roped in one of the ‘Big Four’ auditing firms to investigate potential recruitment fraud allegedly committed by its human resources head Yugantar Saikia.
A source told Business Standard that Saikia’s laptop was seized and emails accessed as part of the investigation due to which he had also been retained on the company’s rolls. He added that Saikia had put in his papers a while ago and was due to quit on February 18.
confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation, it did not divulge any further details on the same.
“An internal investigation is currently on and one cannot give further details at the moment,” said an Ola
Online publication FactorDaily, which first reported about the probe, said the fraud could be to the tune of a “few million dollars”. The publication said when it contacted Saikia, he said he had not been notified of any such action by Ola.
Saikia had allegedly colluded with recruitment agencies, accepting kickbacks to favour them in offering business deals. The audit firm that has been brought in to investigate the fraud can review the employment of 1,000 or more people, who have been recruited from the external agencies in question.
is engaged in a high-stakes battle for leadership in India’s ride-hailing space with Uber
Prior to joining Ola
as senior vice-president and chief administrative officer, Saikia worked with San Jose-based data analytics firm FICO as a senior director for the Asia Pacific Region.
Before that, he had worked at American Express
as service delivery leader for the global infrastructure optimisation division.
The unearthing of the potential scam comes soon after the company closed a $1.1 billion round, which saw participation from investors Tencent, SoftBank
and Ratan Tata-backed UC-RNT fund. Ola’s valuation had dropped from a peak of $5 billion to $3.5 billion during the latest funding round.
is engaged in a high-stakes battle for leadership in India’s ride-hailing space with Uber, a company that is recovering from a slew of governance and leadership issues of its own.
Uber, too, has had its fair share of troubles from India, after Eric Alexander, a senior executive, illegally obtained the medical records of a rape victim.
Global publications have maintained that the handling of the Delhi rape case by Uber’s top management is one of the big reasons why founder Travis Kalanick was ousted from his position of CEO last year. Alexander had allegedly shown the documents to Kalanick. Thus, he was aware of the illegalities but did not intervene.