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

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Aditya Kalra and M. Sriram

NEW DELHI — Sequoia Capital India has requested a neighborhood court docket to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by certainly one of its former basic counsels, saying it was an try to 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 towards media firms that reported on a leaked Sequoia electronic mail of June 2. Kapoor was Sequoia’s in-house basic counsel for almost 9 years till 2019.

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The lawsuit is the newest 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 stated in a press assertion and its lawsuit that Sequoia despatched an electronic mail to its portfolio firms this month making baseless references to “regarding particulars” in regards to the legislation agency that harm its enterprise and popularity.

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 certain to tell its portfolio firms when it detected sure irregularities.

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An impartial 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 legislation 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 stated on Sunday they advised the court docket on Saturday the investigation into Zilingo’s affairs is ongoing and there was no ultimate 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 stated it discovered the style startup paid Algo and its associated entities greater than $6 million between 2020 and 2022.

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

Sequoia was Algo’s high shopper 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 stated was a wrongful termination.

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

Bose’s elimination, Zilingo has beforehand stated, adopted an impartial 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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