Why did Adani Group lie about its association with ‘shell cos king' Vinod Adani, asks Congress
Vinod Adani, the brother of Gautam Adani, has been accused by Hindenburg of running “a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities”. Shouldn’t SEBI and ED be probing the nexus?
The Congress on Sunday grilled Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Adani saga and demanded to know why market watchdog SEBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should not be probing Gautam Adani's elder brother Vinod Adani who is accused to be at the centre of financial flows that leverage one group of Adani assets to send loans to another.
Posing a set of three questions to PM Modi as part of the party's ‘Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun’ series, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that the Adani group has made misrepresentations about Vinod Adani's central role in its “nefarious” activities.
“Despite the Adani Group’s claims distancing itself from Vinod Adani, in repeated public filings, the Group has described Vinod Adani as an intrinsic part of the Adani Group,” Ramesh said.
The Congress leader cited a memorandum filed with the Bombay Stock Exchange in 2020 for a Rs 400 crore debt private placement that states: ‘Adani Group means S.B. Adani Family Trust, Adani Properties Pvt Ltd, Adani Tradeline LLP, Gautam Adani, Rajesh Adani, Vinod S. Adani and all companies and entities controlled directly or indirectly by S.B. Adani Family Trust or Adani Properties Pvt Ltd or Adani Tradeline LLP or Gautam Adani or Rajesh Adani or Vinod S. Adani, separately or collectively.’
“Why is your close friend lying so blatantly to investors and to the public? Are the various investigative agencies ever going to be used to investigate your cronies even when they are caught red-handed?” Ramesh said.
He further pointed out that when the Adani Group acquire Ambuja Cement in September 2022, the acquirer’s SEBI filing stated that ‘the ultimate beneficial ownership of the acquirer is held by Mr. Vinod Shantilal Adani and Mrs. Ranjanben Vinod Adani’.
“Is it not a laughable falsehood for the Adani Group to now distance itself from Vinod Adani?” Ramesh said, adding, “Just because the PM is 'Mauni Baba' on this issue, like on Chinese incursions, it doesn't mean we stop asking questions of him.”
Recently, Adani Group stocks had taken a beating on the bourses after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation, against the business conglomerate whose chairman is Gautam Adani.
In his statement addressed to Prime Minister, Ramesh cited allegations made by Hindenburg Research that said that Vinod Adani "manages a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities" that have "collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals".
In its January 29 reply to the charges, the Adani Group had claimed that ‘Vinod Adani does not hold any managerial position in any Adani listed entities or their subsidiaries and has no role in their day-to-day affairs’.
However, Jairam Ramesh contradicted this claim saying that an Australian investigation has shown that Vinod Adani’s Pinnacle Trade and Investment, based in Singapore, controls a number of Adani Group assets in Australia.
In 2020, Pinnacle entered into a $240 million loan agreement with Russia’s now sanctioned VTB Bank, and then went on to lend $235 million to a related party, likely connected to the Adani Group according to Forbes magazine.
“Does this not clearly show that Vinod Adani is at the centre of financial flows that leverage one group of Adani assets to send loans to another, as alleged by Hindenburg?
“Is this not worthy of investigation by SEBI and the Enforcement Directorate?” the Congress leader demanded to know.
The Congress has demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Adani issue. The opposition party had also stalled proceedings of both Houses of Parliament during the first part of the Budget session.
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