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Business News/ Companies / News/  Zilingo’s Bose sues Mahesh Murthy for ‘defamatory’ article
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Zilingo’s Bose sues Mahesh Murthy for ‘defamatory’ article

Once a promising startup, with aspirations of becoming a unicorn, Zilingo entered into liquidation this January after failing to recover from the suspension of CEO Bose in March 2022, following an investigation into financial irregularities at the company, and her subsequent ouster.

Ankiti Bose wants an apology and $100 million. Premium
Ankiti Bose wants an apology and $100 million.

New Delhi: Singapore-based fashion tech firm Zilingo’s co-founder Ankiti Bose has filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against investor Mahesh Murthy for accusing her of taking money from a startup illegally.

Bose has accused Murthy of falsely casting aspersions on her in an article, From Vulture Capital to Victim Capital : Mahesh Murthy’s Take on VCs in India, published in the Outlook Business magazine on 1 March. Bose claimed the article has caused damage to her “name, reputation and standing, and image". Along with the 820 crore in damages, she has sought an apology from Murthy.

“The plaintiff (Bose) states and submits that the defamatory and untrue claims of the defendant caused damages to the name, reputation, standing and image of the plaintiff in the eyes of the public. However, for the purpose of the present suit, the plaintiff computes the damage at 820 crore," according to the filing on 20 April before the Bombay high court.

Murthy did not respond to multiple emails, phone calls and messages on Friday.

Once a promising startup, with aspirations of becoming a unicorn, Zilingo entered into liquidation this January after failing to recover from the suspension of CEO Bose in March 2022, following an investigation into financial irregularities at the company, and her subsequent ouster.

Murthy didn’t name Bose in the article but offered various descriptive pointers. Referring to founders who took money illegally out of their startups, it mentioned “one lady" who “ran a popular fashion portal and took Sequoia’s money".

“She got her firm to pay her lawyer some 70 crore as fees and—it is rumoured—got a lot of that amount directly back to herself as her cut," Murthy alleged.

When contacted, Bose said the description in the article was far too specific about her and couldn’t have meant anyone else.

She said Murthy also didn’t respond to legal notices sent to him through various channels to apologize and take down the content, which prompted her to file a legal case.

“The fact is there was no evidence presented to me; there was no report presented to me. There were just a lot of media statements and a lot of unnamed sources saying things, but nobody (else) saying anything directly on record," she said.

Bose said that the $100 million was computed by calculating among other things her balance equity in Zilingo and takes into account, “the losses that statements like this can affect future endeavours".

Bose also said that her decision in the past to move on and “bury the past" appears as a mistake as it is now getting “regurgitated in multiple reports".

This defamation case is also to make a more specific point.

“There has been a barrage of misinformation in the media about me, but it has always been unnamed sources. No one (else) has been very descriptive and specific about me and said it on record. The message that I want to make sure goes through is that – and I'm saying this on record is that -- look, this media campaign hurts me. And when people do it, I will take action," Bose said in an interview with the Mint. “As we start to identify these people and these sources, we will take action. It's very hard to take action against unnamed sources," she added.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ranjani Raghavan
Ranjani heads the startup and new economy team at Mint. She covers the investment and the deals ecosystem, which takes her into the secretive world of high finance — mostly private equity and venture capital firms and the people running them. She also writes about the Indian corporate world which includes old fashioned business executives and their emerging challengers from the tech ecosystem.
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Published: 21 Apr 2023, 11:22 PM IST
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