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Cong cites media reports to flag close links between Adani Group, ‘shadowy network of confidantes’ engaging in SEBI laws violations

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (PTI) The Congress on Monday reiterated its demand for a JPC probe into the Adani matter, claiming that a spate of recent media reports have “further illuminated” close links between the conglomerate and a “shadowy network of Adani confidantes” allegedly engaging in round-tripping, money laundering and brazen violations of SEBI laws.

In a statement, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said the “biggest mystery” in corporate India has to be how Adani has escaped prosecution by various arms of the government despite a deluge of information about its corrupt and illegal activities from top to bottom.

“Quite clearly the PM has no interest in investigating his close friend and benefactor. With the PM unable or unwilling, the answer has to be a JPC (joint parliamentary committee probe),” he said.

The opposition party has been questioning the financial dealings of billionaire Gautam Adani’s group after the US-based Hindenburg Research alleged “irregularities” and charged it with stock price manipulation.

The Adani Group has denied all the allegations made in the Hindenburg report and claimed there had been no wrongdoing on its part.

Ramesh said a spate of recent media revelations has “further illuminated” the close links between the Adani Group and a shadowy network of Adani confidantes allegedly engaging in round-tripping, money laundering and brazen violations of SEBI laws.

“Two names have stood out in these revelations: Chang Chung-Ling and Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli: Chang and Ahli have been identified as the middlemen who allegedly siphoned out around Rs 12,000 crore by over-invoicing coal imports from Indonesia to India done by Adani, which contributed to inflated electricity prices in India,” Ramesh alleged.

Chang and Ahli have also been shown to be the beneficial owners of offshore shell companies that amassed huge benami stakes in four Adani Group companies, in complete violation of SEBI regulations that are aimed at preventing share price manipulation, he said..

“Now the stench of illegality has become stronger in yet another set of financial transactions. There is evidence Chang, Ahli and their associates control engineering procurement and construction (EPC) firms that have received the bulk of construction contracts from Adani,” Ramesh said.

He said the illegality arises from the inability of the prominent audit firm Deloitte Haskins and Sells to certify that one EPC firm, Howe Engineering Projects, is not related to Adani.

“This is a very serious admission by the auditor. Deloitte’s inability to certify that Howe and another EPC firm PMC Projects are not related to Adani reportedly contributed to its resignation in August 2023 as the auditor of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ),” Ramesh said.

Ramesh cited a ‘Morning Context’ investigation published this morning which he said shows overwhelming evidence linking Howe and Adani, despite repeated denials by the latter.

“A complex ownership structure extending to Mauritius connects Howe to Vinod Adani and to Chang Chien-Ting, Chang Chung-Ling’s son. Howe has operated out of Adani’s premises in Ahmedabad and had common directors from 2008. The websites of affiliated firms and social media profiles of employees provide additional evidence of the close links between Howe and Adani,” he alleged.

In fact, Howe and PMC Projects have common ownership, suggesting that much of APSEZ’s construction work is being carried out by related parties, Ramesh claimed.

“Given this trail and the seeming deceptions, financial experts have opined that the PM’s close friends may be guilty of ‘fraud’ and that misrepresenting the nature of the relationship is a ‘grave governance issue’ that should concern all Adani shareholders,” the Congress leader said.

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