Why is PM not ordering a probe into Adani row: Rahul Gandhi

Sep 01, 2023 12:22 AM IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has demanded an explanation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group's use of offshore funds. Gandhi is calling for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the issue and has criticized the prime minister for not initiating an investigation. The Adani Group has rejected the allegations, calling them "recycled." Gandhi also suggested that world leaders may question why Adani was given preferential treatment at the upcoming G20 summit in New Delhi.

Mumbai: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday sought an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over fresh allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds, asking why the PM was not initiating a probe and insisting that the country’s reputation was at stake.

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi seeks an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over fresh allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds (Hindustan Times)
Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi seeks an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over fresh allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds (Hindustan Times)

His comments -- also demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the issue -- came hours after The Guardian and The Financial Times reported documentary evidence that sought to establish a trail between the individuals and the entities that bought shares of Adani companies, and Vinod Adani, Gautam Adani’s brother. The Adani Group rejected what it termed as “recycled allegations”.

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“I don’t understand why the PM is not forcing an investigation? Why is he quiet and not saying that he will make sure there will be an investigation? This is raising serious questions on the Indian Prime Minister. Why are ED and CBI not probing Adani Group?” Gandhi said in a press conference in Mumbai.

“It is very important that PM Modi clears his name and categorically explain what is going on,” he added.

The comments came hours before the Opposition INDIA bloc met informally to discuss strategy.

Gandhi pointed to the upcoming G20 summit in New Delhi and said that world leaders might ask Modi why Adani was given “a free ride”. He also reiterated the Congress’s demand for a probe by JPC —a similar body had probed the stock market scam by Harshad Mehta in 1992.

The Congress lawmaker, who had earlier attacked the government over the Adani issue during the discussion on the President’s speech in February this year, said that India’s reputation for offering a level-playing field to business houses was at stake.

Two associates of Adani Group founder Gautam Adani’s brother, Vinod Adani, used Bermuda’s Global Opportunities Fund to amass and trade large positions in shares of the conglomerate, the Financial Times reported, citing documents a network of investigative journalists shared with the British business daily. The newspaper said a Vinod Adani employee oversaw the investments the two -- Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan’s Chang Chung-Ling -- made, raising questions over whether they were frontmen used to bypass rules for Indian companies that prevent share price manipulation.

The Adani group issued a rebuttal. “These claims are based on closed cases from a decade ago when the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) probed allegations of over invoicing, transfer of funds abroad, related party transactions and investments through FPIs. An independent adjudicating authority and an appellate tribunal had both confirmed that there was no overvaluation and that the transactions were in accordance with applicable law,” Adani group said.

But Gandhi was not impressed. “G20 is about India’s position in the world. And what is very important for India is that there is a level playing field and transparency in our economic environment with respect to the businesses working here,” he said.

“Why is this one gentleman who is close to the Prime Minister, allowed to move a billion dollars to pump up his share price and to use the money to capture Indian assets such as airports and ports. Why there is no investigation is taking place? At least a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) should be allowed and a thorough investigation should take place,” Gandhi added.

Showing copies of the Financial Times and The Guardian, Gandhi alleged that over a billion dollars went from India and was circulated in different places before coming back to India.

“The first question is: whose money is this? Is this Adani’s own money or someone else’s money? The second question is that what is the role of Vinod Adani? He is the mastermind. Who are Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli and Chinese national Chang Chung-Ling? Why are these two foreign nationals being allowed to play with valuation of a company?” Gandhi asked.

The leader also referred to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). “There was an investigation. SEBI gave a clean chit to Mr. Adani. The person who conducted the investigation is today a director in NDTV. What does that tell you about the nature of the investigation? Adani can’t stop an investigation but the PM can. Something very wrong here.”

The Congress said that in the special session of Parliament in September, the “only issue” would be a JPC probe on Adani. Party leader Jairam Ramesh said, “the only agenda for the Congress in the special session will be a JPC on Adani.”

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