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AI start-up funded by Softbank and Microsoft is being investigated in India for its previous business transactions.

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Builder.ai, originally known as Engineer.ai and established in 2016, endeavors to streamline app and website development through the use of artificial intelligence, likening the process to ordering pizza. Despite its London headquarters, the company has garnered substantial investments, notably securing a $250 million funding round led by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2023, amidst growing interest in generative AI technologies.

However, recent reports from The Financial Times highlight legal challenges faced by key figures Sachin Dev Duggal and Saurabh Dhoot in India. Duggal is under scrutiny in a money laundering case linked to the collapse of Videocon, while Dhoot is implicated in a loan fraud probe concerning the same company. These accusations pertain to activities predating Builder.ai.

Allegations against Duggal involve financial transactions between 2008 and 2012, where funds from Videocon were purportedly transferred to a company he founded in India, then allegedly redirected to Videocon’s international entities. Dhoot, on the other hand, is accused of participating in a scheme to secure fraudulent loans from an Indian bank, with his uncle Venugopal Dhoot allegedly involved in misallocating funds to various Videocon accounts.

Both Duggal and Dhoot, who previously co-founded Nivio before Builder.ai, deny any wrongdoing. Legal representatives for Duggal assert his cooperation with authorities, framing his involvement as a misunderstanding. Dhoot’s legal team similarly dismisses the allegations, citing the early stage of the proceedings.

While these developments raise questions about Builder.ai’s leadership, the company and its legal representatives clarify that the investigations do not directly involve the startup. They emphasize Dhoot’s advisory role and friendship with Duggal, distancing him from a founding or executive position. In response to inquiries, Builder.ai has adjusted public references to Dhoot’s association with the company.

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