Two UpGrad employees defraud education company of ₹12.76 crore
Mumbai: Asia’s biggest online higher education company, UpGrad Education Private Limited, has filed a complaint of fraud against two of its senior executives for allegedly defrauding it of ₹12
Mumbai: Asia’s biggest online higher education company, UpGrad Education Private Limited, has filed a complaint of fraud against two of its senior executives for allegedly defrauding it of ₹12.76 crore. The accused sent bogus invoices to UpGrad’s finance department and fraudulently received the salaries of vendors and 102 teachers between September 2021 and November 2022.
When the company subsequently discovered that all the people named in the invoices were family members, relatives and friends of the accused, a complaint was lodged with the Worli police. The case has been transferred to the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police for further investigation.
Varun Garg, President of Learning Experience at UpGrad, on Tuesday filed the complaint against Keshav Agarwal and Ojas Gupta. Agarwal joined UpGrad in June 2019 as Academic Associate, Grade G1, and is currently posted as manager of the academic associate team (the department that looks after the appointment of teachers).
Gupta joined the company in June 2018 as content strategist and is currently posted as assistant director in the Academic Associate department. The company had entrusted Gupta with the responsibility of hiring new teachers, fixing teachers’ salaries, managing sessions between teachers and students and sending invoices to the finance team to pay teachers after the online sessions.
According to the police, Gupta and Agarwal had signed an agreement with the company which had several terms and conditions pertaining to the secrecy of the company’s work. These included not disclosing the company’s internal policy information to anyone and not appointing family members, relatives, friends or acquaintances in the company, the police said.
According to the police complaint, the fraud came to light after the company’s international director, sales, on September 30, 2022, received an anonymous email claiming that Agarwal and Gupta were defrauding the company by presenting bogus invoices and accepting money. The anonymous email sender also informed the company that the accused had used UpGrad’s formula to create an education website called Gigs4Education.
The company carried out an internal inquiry and also roped in auditors, who found that Agarwal’s sister-in-law owned Gigs4Education while Gupta’s mother and sister were also employees in Gigs4Education. It was also discovered that Agarwal had made his two brothers as well as Gigs4Education vendors for UpGrad. According to the FIR, Agarwal used to look after all the banking affairs of Gigs4Education.
On inquiring with the employees working under Agarwal and Gupta, UpGrad officials learnt that when the employees prepared lists of teachers and vendors, Agarwal would give them names of his own to be included in the list. Since Agarwal and Gupta were their seniors, they could never ask them if ‘their’ teachers and vendors ever gave lectures on the company’s online platform.
On November 26, 2022, Agarwal informed his seniors that due to some personal issues, he planned to quit and settle down in Jaipur. Two days later when Gupta came to office, he was confronted by his seniors. Gupta then claimed that Agarwal was behind the fraud. On November 29 and December 1, 2022, Gupta and Agarwal resigned from their respective posts, citing mental disturbance and illness.
Every lecture conducted on the UpGrad platform gets rerecorded and saved in the company’s server. When the company matched the details of lectures on the server with the payments made to teachers, the records did not match. The family members and relatives of the accused received payments in their bank accounts.
In the FIR, UpGrad has stated that the two accused violated the terms and conditions mentioned in the service agreement. They showed Gigs4Education as an appointed vendor and also fraudulently showed that teachers associated with Gigs4Education provided services to UpGrad and took payment in fake names and invoices, thus causing a wrongful loss of ₹12.76 crore to UpGrad.
The police have booked the accused under Sections 420, 409, 465, 467, 468, 471, 120B and 34 of Indian Penal Code but have not made any arrest in the case yet.