Stopped from submitting complaint against Adani Group to ED, Kharge emails it
In the letter to the ED, the Opposition parties demanded an investigation into the matter citing its “serious implications” not just for India’s economy but most importantly democracy
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday emailed a letter to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking immediate action over allegations of fraud against the Adani Group after leaders of 16 Opposition parties were stopped from physically submitting it to the federal agency.
Police deployed additional forces and put up barricades to prevent the leaders from marching from the Parliament complex to the ED office to submit the letter. Code of Criminal Procedure’s Section 144, which bars the gathering of over four people, was also imposed around the complex.
Kharge, who led the march, said police did not let them go to the ED office as the government does not want them to demand a probe into the Adani issue. The Opposition leaders earlier met at Kharge’s office to coordinate their strategy on the issue.
Opposition parties have cornered the government over the exposure of the State Bank of India (SBI) and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) to the Adani Group and sought a joint parliamentary panel probe into allegations against it.
The group faced a rout of share prices of its listed firms after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research in January accused it of “brazen stock manipulation” and “accounting fraud” via “a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities.”
The allegations rocked the first half of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament even as the Gautam Adani-led group has denied them.
In the letter to the ED, the Opposition parties demanded an investigation into the matter citing its “serious implications” not just for India’s economy but most importantly democracy. “This case involves serious and far-reaching charges of corporate fraud, political corruption, stock-price manipulation through fraudulent means, and the misuse/monopolization of public resources to benefit a single corporate group,” said the letter.
The letter urged the ED to specifically look into the allegations of the group’s links with offshore shell companies and funds. It cited data in the public domain and alleged the group controlled 38 Mauritius shell entities through Gautam Adani’s brother Vinod Adani or close associates as well as other entities in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and Caribbean Islands.
The letter said Vinod Adani and his associates were “crucial” in setting up these networks. “The detailed nature of transactions which reveal such a link are now available in the public domain.”
The letter said these actions are also patently illegal since they violate the basic rule that at least 25% of free float, or the shares of a company that can be publicly traded, be held by non-promoter entities.
It referred to allegations of the group lending money to a company called AdiCorp. The letter added the money was further funnelled to Adani Power.
It slammed the ED for “political favouritism” and overlooking several other high-profile cases linked directly or indirectly with the group such as the 3000 kg Mundra Port drug bust.
The letter referred to massive amounts of debt the group has taken from public sector banks and alleged a clear pattern of corruption, cronyism, and habitual law breaking. The letter added despite all of this, the ED has shown little to no interest in pursuing a basic investigation.
It pointed out the ED has zealously pursued cases of alleged political favouritism. “We are also aware of the limited remit of the Supreme Court Commission appointed on the subject. We point this out so as to remind the ED that it cannot turn around and abdicate its jurisdiction on these or other grounds,” said the letter, which was signed by over 20 Opposition leaders.
The Supreme Court on March 3 set up the six-member expert committee to investigate allegations of regulatory failure and breach of laws in the Adani-Hindenburg episode, including those about the conglomerate. The panel has been asked to suggest measures for bolstering the statutory and supervisory regime.