Sequoia India asks court to dismiss lawsuit by its former counsel -filing

By Aditya Kalra and M. Sriram

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Sequoia Capital India has requested a neighborhood court docket to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by one in every of its former basic counsels, saying it was an try and curb its free speech rights and hurt its pursuits, the enterprise capital agency’s court docket submitting exhibits.

Sequoia has been locked in a authorized battle with Sandeep Kapoor, after he included the corporate in a defamation lawsuit in opposition to media firms that reported on a leaked Sequoia e mail of June 2. Kapoor was Sequoia’s in-house basic counsel for practically 9 years till 2019.

The lawsuit is the most recent in a collection of troubles for Sequoia which have the corporate grappling with complaints from startups about broken belief following high-profile governance scandals at a few of its portfolio firms in India and Southeast Asia.

Kapoor’s agency, Algo Authorized, has mentioned in a press assertion and its lawsuit that Sequoia despatched an e mail to its portfolio firms this month making baseless references to “regarding particulars” in regards to the regulation agency that harm its enterprise and repute.

Sequoia denied the allegations in a 19-page court docket submitting in India’s tech hub of Bengaluru on June 18, calling the lawsuit “frivolous and vexatious” and saying it was obligation sure to tell its portfolio firms when it detected sure irregularities.

An unbiased probe at Sequoia Capital-backed style startup in Singapore, Zilingo, discovered sure funds made to Algo and its associated entities “weren’t in consonance with the engagement phrases/contracts”, forcing Sequoia to warning its portfolio firms from coping with the regulation agency, the court docket submitting states.

Sequoia’s submitting, which has been seen by Reuters, has not been made public.

A spokesperson for Algo and Kapoor mentioned on Sunday they advised the court docket on Saturday the investigation into Zilingo’s affairs is ongoing and there was no remaining discovering, and that Sequoia’s allegations within the submitting have been with out advantage.

Detailing the Zilingo probe’s findings for the primary time, Sequoia mentioned it discovered the style startup paid Algo and its associated entities greater than $6 million between 2020 and 2022.

In such circumstances, Sequoia mentioned, its “proper to freedom of speech prevails over the plaintiff’s proper of repute for the reason that assertion was issued with none malice and with none intention to defame.”

Sequoia was Algo’s prime consumer in billings, however the U.S. enterprise capital agency ended its engagement with Algo in January. Sequoia on Sunday declined to touch upon its court docket submitting.

The Bengaluru court docket will subsequent hear the matter on June 29.

Zilingo in April suspended its 30-year-old CEO and cofounder Ankiti Bose, a former Sequoia analyst, over suspected monetary irregularities. Bose was later dismissed in what she has mentioned was a wrongful termination.

Zilingo and Bose didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Sunday.

Bose’s removing, Zilingo has beforehand mentioned, adopted an unbiased investigation into complaints about what the startup described as “severe monetary irregularities”.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and M. Sriram in New Delhi; Modifying by Tom Hogue)

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