“Easy Money”: Paytm Chief’s Secretary Arrested For Rs 20 Crore Blackmail

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Sonia Dhawan's Twitter bio reveals she had been promoted to head of communication at Paytm

New Delhi:

As spokesperson of Paytm and one of the oldest employees of the digital payment giant, Sonia Dhawan enjoyed a sizeable pay package. Which is why, the sight of her being arrested and led away from the company's office on Monday afternoon may have been surprising to the staff.

Sonia Dhawan was among the three persons arrested for an attempt to blackmail Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma for Rs 20 crore, with stolen data. The other two were her husband Rupak Jain, a property dealer, and colleague Devender Kumar.

Sonia Dhawan, who was Mr Sharma's secretary for many years, was at her desk in the office in Noida near Delhi when the police team walked in and arrested her. She had stolen data and personal information from her boss, the police said.

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Her Twitter bio reveals that she was head of communication at the e-wallet major, whose investors include China's Alibaba Group and Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. "Hard work is glory, everything else is theory," she wrote.

"She did it for easy money, we suspect," said police officer Ajay Pal Sharma.

According to the police, she had worked with Vijay Shekhar Sharma for 10 years, a period which covers the launch and phenomenal rise of Paytm. Her colleague Devender Kumar joined when the company started, seven years ago.

It is not known yet what data was stolen, but when she was Mr Sharma's secretary, Sonia Dhawan had access to his laptop, mobile phone and office computer. She allegedly passed on data to a fourth man, Rohit Chomal, who made the extortion call to Mr Sharma's brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma, a senior vice president in the company.

Chomal, a resident of Kolkata, is missing. He allegedly made the first call on September 20 and demanded Rs 10 crore for stolen data. Subsequently, he raised it to 20 crores.

"The person threatened us that if the money was not paid, he would severely damage our personal, professional and social lives," Ajay Shekhar Sharma was quoted as telling Reuters. He transferred about Rs 2 lakh this month to two bank accounts. The extortion demands did not end, which forced the family to go to the police, Reuters reported.

With inputs from agencies

Disclosure: Paytm's parent company One 97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.

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