ED Searches Sequoia Office on Vasan Link
VC firm says it quit Vasan board in Nov & had sought probe into charges against co
New Delhi: Sequoia India, whose office was searched by the Enforcement Directorate on Monday, said its representative resigned from the board of Vasan Healthcare in November last, as it distanced itself from an investigation which involves the son of former finance minister P Chidambaram. VT Bharadwaj, a managing director of Sequoia Capital India, resigned on November 18, and two months before that he had “demanded that management of Vasan Healthcare conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations”, the venture capital firm said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Bengaluru office of Sequoia was searched by ED, which is investigating suspected money laundering and tax evasion involving Vasan, which the authorities believe has connections to Karti Chidambaram, the son of the former FM. Clearing Air Agency probing alleged FEMA violations worth
by Advantage Strategic and Vasan Healthcare VC firm says it is a minority investor in Vasan
“During the course of this investigation, the Sequoia Capital India team has met the ED officials multiple times and has answered every query placed before us. We adopted the same approach yesterday during the ED visit to our offices,” the Sequoia statement said.
Sequoia, whose investments worldwide include companies such as Apple, Google and WhatsApp, clarified that it is “a minority investor in Vasan, which is one out of the 100+ investments made in India over the last 10 years” and that it has no connection to the investigation into the Aircel-Maxis case, where too Karti Chidambaram is being probed. On Tuesday evening, Bharadwaj was listed as a director on the website of Vasan Eyecare, along with KP Balaraj, cofounder of WestBridge Capital, and Arjun Gupta, senior vice-president at GIC, the other investors in the company.
ED officials, speaking on condi- tion of anonymity, said documents related to Sequoia Capital were found during raids in Chennai (late last year) at the office of Karti Chidambaram. The agency is investigating alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act amounting to Rs 22.2 crore by an entity called Advantage Strategic Consultants Ltd and Vasan Healthcare.
After a series of transactions beginning with founder AM Arun, Advantage came to own a stake in the company in 2008. Advantage was mostly owned by Ausbridge Holdings & Investments, which in turn was majority owned by Karti Chidambaram. ED officials claim they have found evidence to link Sequoia to the alleged transaction where the venture firm’s accounts were “misused”. Sequoia first invested in Vasan in 2009, and in October 2010 it bought a stake from Advantage. Karti Chidambaram declined to comment. He sold his stake in Ausbridge in 2012. Arun could not be immediately contacted by phone.