Paytm extortion case: Noida court rejects former executive Sonia Dhawan's bail plea, says she committed 'serious crime'

A Noida court has rejected the bail plea of former Paytm executive Sonia Dhawan, arrested for blackmailing and making an extortion bid on the e-wallet giant's CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, a media report said.

Dhawan, who was arrested on 22 October last year and is in jail since, claimed innocence and said that there is no independent witness against her, The Economic Times reported.

The court while rejecting Dhawan's bail application said that there is adequate evidence against the former Paytm executive and her active involvement in the crime has come to light.

"Keeping in mind the facts and circumstances and seeing that she, along with her husband and other co-accused, has committed a serious crime of a grave nature, grounds are not enough to grant her bail and the bail application is rejected,” the court was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

An FIR was filed by Paytm CEO's brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma on 22 October 2018, and had said that Dhawan along with her husband Rupak Jain, Devendra Kumar--a Paytm employee and a person named Rohit Chomwal had stolen private data of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm’s parent, One97 Communication.

Paytm extortion case: Noida court rejects former executive Sonia Dhawans bail plea, says she committed serious crime

The headquarters of Paytm digital payments firm in Noida. Reuters

Paytm, whose investors include China’s Alibaba Group and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, had declined to say how the stolen material would have allowed the blackmail of its founder but added that only his personal data was taken.

The complaint filed with police had said that Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s brother and son received two Whatsapp calls in September 2018 from one of the accused individuals demanding Rs 20,000 crore to stop him from making the data public.

Ajay told Reuters that before calling him, the accused approached Vijay on 20 September from a Thailand number when he was in Japan for work, threatening to “destroy our lives” if the money was not paid.

“I told him ‘give us some sample, only then I will believe what you are saying’,” Ajay had said, recalling the conversation. “Then he gave me the passwords of two Gmail accounts of my brother. Then we realised that this guy really had something.”

Ajay had transferred about 2,00,000 rupees this month to two bank accounts provided by the caller. But the extortion demands did not end, forcing the family to go to the police, according to the complaint.

In late October last year, Vijay Shekhar Sharma had said that Dhawan might just be a conduit of someone else’s bigger plan.

“I don’t know how many more people were involved in this sad conspiracy. I am shocked and surprised at things that happened and some claims or theories being pitched. I am sure with the support of police and everyone involved we will uncover the details soon,” Sharma was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2019 12:46:05 IST

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