Adani Group flags ‘renewed’ attempts to ‘financially destabilise’ conglomerate

Adani Group on Monday flagged what it called “renewed” attempts by the British newspaper Financial Times to “rehash old and baseless allegations” against the conglomerate. Accusing the newspaper of running a relentless campaign against Gautam Adani-owned group of companies to “advance vested interests under the guise of public interest”, it claimed the media house was planning a story “on over-invoicing of coal imports” with the aim of financially destabilising one of India’s largest companies.

Gautam Adani(AFP)
Gautam Adani(AFP)

“Having failed earlier, the FT is making another effort to financially destabilise the Adani Group by raking up an old, baseless allegation of over-invoicing of coal imports,” Adani Group wrote in a media statement.

“There is a renewed attempt by the Financial Times and its collaborators to rehash old and baseless allegations to tarnish the name and standing of the Adani Group. This is part of their extended campaign to advance vested interests under the guise of public interest,” it added.

Adani Group described the proposed story as “the next attack” fronted by the Financial Times journalist, Dan McCrum, “who jointly with the OCCRP put out a false narrative against the Adani Group on 31 August 2023.”

McCrum and John Reed, on the said date, reported that two men allegedly linked to Gautam Adani’s brother Vinod Adani were using Bermuda’s Global Opportunities Fund “to amass and trade large positions in shares of the Adani Group”. They identified the two men as Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the United Arab Emirates and Chang Chung-Ling from Taiwan. They alleged that their investments were overseen by a Vinod Adani employee, “raising questions over whether they were front men used to bypass rules for Indian companies that prevent share price manipulation”.

Also read: Financial Times cites secret paper trail, says it reveals hidden Adani investors

The Adani Group today accused McCrum of collaborating with OCCRP for the August 31 story. “The OCCRP is funded by George Soros, who has openly declared his hostility against the Adani Group,” it said.

OCCRP – as per the information on its website – is “an investigative reporting platform formed by 24 non-profit investigative centres”, spread across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Also read: Adani crisis to spark democratic revival in India, says George Soros

The Adani Group today said the newspaper was making another effort to financially destabilise the conglomerate by raking up old allegations.

“The FT’s proposed story is based on the DRI’s General Alert Circular No.11/2016/CI dated 30 March 2016. The FT’s brazen agenda is exposed by the fact that they have singled out the Adani Group, while the DRI’s Circular, the raison d’être for the whole story, mentions as many as 40 importers including the Adani Group companies. This list not only includes some of India’s major private power generators like Reliance Infra, JSW Steels and Essar but also the state power generating companies of Karnataka, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, etc. and the NTPC and MSTC,” it added.

“It is noteworthy that, in the case of Knowledge Infrastructure, one of the 40 importers mentioned in the General Alert Circular, the DRI’s Show Cause Notice alleging over-valuation in the import of coal was quashed by the appellate tribunal (CESTAT). Further, the DRI’s appeal was dismissed as withdrawn by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 24 January 2023 with the observation that “we appreciate the stand taken by the Government in not entering into futile litigation.” Clearly, the issue of overvaluation in the import of coal was conclusively settled by India’s highest court of law,” it added.

Also read: Reports reignite Adani row, put focus on regulator’s role

The Adani Group today called FT’s proposed story “clever recycling and selective misrepresentation of publicly available facts”. It alleged that the said story, showing scant respect for India’s regulatory and judicial processes and authorities, indulged in the suppression of judicial decisions to arrive at a “predetermined conclusion”.

American short-seller Hindenburg in January published a report accusing Adani Group of account fraud and stock manipulation. Even though they dismissed the report as “unresearched” and “maliciously mischievous”, it resulted in a dilapidating rout of Adani Group’s stocks. Within one month of the publication of the report, Adani, then the third richest man on earth, lost 80.6 billion dollars in wealth.

Gautam Adani was worth 120 billion dollars before the Hindenburg report. His personal wealth had plummeted to 40 billion dollars. American investor and short-seller George Soros had said at the time that the turmoil engulfing Adani’s business empire may open the door to a “democratic revival” in the country.

Over the last few months, Adani has recovered some of his lost wealth due to the infusion of funds by Indian-American investor Rajiv Jain in Adani Group’s stocks.

According to Forbes Billionaire’s index, Adani is currently the 24th richest person on the planet with a net worth of $54.6 billion.

With inputs from PTI, ANI

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