Exclusive: Following data theft allegations by Acko, court orders raid on Nexus-backed Onsurity

Exclusive: Following data theft allegations by Acko, court orders raid on Nexus-backed Onsurity
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29 Jul, 2020

A Bombay High Court-appointed advocate commissioner has raided the office of Bengaluru based Onsurity Technologies, following a confidential data theft allegation by digital insurance provider Acko, as per court documents reviewed by TechCircle.

The commissioner has seized laptops and other media devices, and obtained mirror images of company data on hard drives, which will be couriered to Mumbai for a court-supervised inspection, as advised by Justice GS Patel in a video hearing on July 20. 

However, an order on the inspection has not been made yet, as the court sought time to make arrangements for a supervised inspection, adjourning the matter to August 3. 

Email queries sent to Onsurity co-founder Kulin Shah, Acko and the former’s investor Nexus Ventures did not elicit a response at the time of publishing this report.

In a July 16 hearing, the court appointed four advocates as commissioners in as many locations to inspect Onsurity offices, the documents show.

On May 8, Acko filed a First Information Report (FIR) at the Cybercrime Police Station (CCPS), Bengaluru, against former staffers Yogesh Agarwal and Kulin Shah for stealing confidential information and using it to set up competing businesses, Onsurity Services and Onsurity Technologies, registered in Kolkata and Bengaluru, respectively. 

Agarwal was a former part time consultant at Acko Group, while Shah joined the company as vice president in August 2017, the Amazon-backed company said in the FIR. Both were employed in key positions, and privy to trade secrets and confidential information, it added.

CCPS, Bengaluru filed the FIR under Sections 66 and 72 of the Information Technology Act, and Sections 403, 406, 408, 426, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code against Agarwal and Shah, along with the former’s family members, for stealing Acko’s confidential data resulting in damages to the tune of Rs 20 crore.

“Yogesh and Kulin, in collusion with Yogesh’s parents… have stolen the confidential information of Acko Group entrusted to them during their term of engagement and employment. Further, using the same to set up a competitive business under the names Onsurity Services Pvt Ltd incorporated on 15.05.2019 and Onsurity Tech Pvt Ltd incorporated on 05.02.2020,” the FIR stated.

According to the FIR, Shah downloaded confidential information during his notice period in February and erased the operating system on his office laptop to hide the activity.

Acko alleged that both Agarwal and Shah were still employed or engaged with the company when Onsurity Services was incorporated on May 15, 2019. At that time, Agarwal’s family members were listed as the directors. Acko, in its FIR, said some of Onsurity’s offerings such as mobile insurance, flight travel insurance, and visa cancellation insurance, which its co-founders promoted on social media, were “blatant copies” of Acko's proprietary products, while its health insurance products were modelled on Acko’s internal strategy.

Additionally, Acko filed a civil case in the Bombay High Court against the former employees for IP theft as well.

In March, Onsurity raised Rs 17.5 crore ($2.3 million) in a seed funding round from Nexus Venture Partners. The company operates in the insurance-tech space and its website currently says that it offers employee healthcare products for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups.

Acko, founded by Varun Dua in 2016, provides insurance policy products with personalised pricing based on customer behaviour and data analytics through its digital platform. A heavily-funded player in the space, it has raised a total of $107 million in funding so far from venture capital firms such as Narayan Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures, Accel, SAIF Partners, RPS Ventures and Intact Ventures, apart from entities such as ecommerce giant Amazon, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal.