Ethereum backer ConsenSys is suing a former fund manager for resume fraud, alleging her disastrous performance and toxic personality alienated colleagues, scuppered lucrative investment opportunities, and damaged the firm’s reputation.
According to a complaint filed with a Delaware court on Monday, Kavita Gupta got the job on the back of a “stellar” resume. The plan was for her to handle a new venture capital fund focused on early-stage blockchain companies throughout 2018 and beyond.
But ConsenSys says it quickly became apparent that Gupta “lacked a basic understanding of fundamental venture capital concepts,” nor did she have the competence or knowledge to carry out her duties.
Still, Gupta persisted as a figure at blockchain and crypto event tracks across the world throughout her time at ConsenSys.
Court docs state she was paid an annual salary of $250,000, with a guaranteed $100,000 bonus. In total, she earned $600,000 between October 2017 and April 2019, says ConsenSys.
How to lose friends and intimidate people
ConsenSys’ filing claims that Gupta initially impressed founder and Ethereum billionaire Joe Lubin with tales of Harvard Business School (HBS) and MIT.
She also said she’d worked for The World Bank on green bonds and carbon swaps, and managed investment funds with over $150 million in play.
The company says Gupta claimed to have invented a number of financial products. She allegedly touted a network of contacts that included Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page.
What ConsenSys says it got instead was somebody who was massively out of her depth. The company hired her oversee a brand new venture capital fund as a co-managing partner.
Gupta had secured an agreement with ConsenSys that would see her receive 20% of profits generated by a company specifically built to handle that fund.
“Gupta, however, turned out to be a fraud. During her short tenure at ConsenSys, Gupta proved incapable of even basic tasks, much less of co-managing a venture capital fund,” the document reads.
She received negative feedback from everybody she worked with, the firm said. A number of the complaints leveled at Gupta centered on her unprofessional behavior. This included the abuse of employees.
One specific example cited in court documents says Gupta attacked a senior manager over his weight, telling him to “move his fat ass up the stairs.”
A number of employees were said to have left the company rather than work with Gupta. A total lack of people skills also affected deals with other firms, said ConsenSys.
Indeed, a number of senior figures who worked for potential investment targets apparently refused to do business with Gupta. This, says ConsenSys, cost the firm potentially lucrative opportunities.
Gupta gave herself a royal title and a job at NASA
The complaint details how ConsenSys tried to track down proof of Gupta’s claims but instead found a raft of dodgy documents.
The company contacted HBS but the school said there was no record of Gupta ever attending.
Likewise, a purported “offer letter” from consulting firm McKinsey set alarm bells ringing. It evidently included dates inconsistent with the information on Gupta’s resume and featured a signature that was cut and pasted from another document.
But perhaps the most bizarre piece of “proof” produced by Gupta was a letter of recommendation from MIT president L. Rafael Reif.
The letter was full of typos, featured a number of different typefaces, and referred to Gupta as “HRH” (Her Royal Highness).
Furthermore, ConsenSys was unable to uncover any proof of any of Gupta’s claimed inventions, including a wireless communication system used by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
There seemed to be no record of her working with NASA, either.
ConsenSys changes mind, wants its money back
ConsenSys allowed Gupta to resign instead of firing her when it uncovered her scheme. She was even allowed to keep the money she’d made during her one and a half years with the company.
However, the tale took another twist when Gupta attempted to extort ConsenSys following her resignation. She has allegedly threatened to “make false and defamatory allegations about ConsenSys and its management” unless the company pays her millions of dollars.
But ConsenSys has met Gupta with fire. “ConsenSys will not be shaken down by Gupta,” it stated in its filing.
“Gupta fraudulently induced ConsenSys to hire her and give her membership … based on false claims about her credentials; spent little more than a year at the [fund], during which time she performed disastrously; resorted to using forged documents when she was confronted about her resume fraud; and is now entitled to nothing from ConsenSys or the [fund].”
ConsenSys is demanding she pay back all compensation earned during her time with the firm. This includes more than $600,000 in salary and bonuses.
In any case, it’s not clear why ConsenSys only spotted Gupta’s alleged resume fraud after paying her more a half-million dollars.
Protos has reached out to ConsenSys to learn more about its compliance processes for hiring executives, and Gupta for comment.
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