Congress sees let-off bid on Adani
The Congress has argued that the committee proposed by the Supreme Court to look into matters related to the Hindenburg report would end up as an exercise to exonerate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Adani group, and reiterated its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).
“It is becoming clear that the proposed committee is part of a carefully orchestrated exercise by these vested interests to prevent any real investigation into the Adani group’s relationship with the ruling regime,” a statement issued by party communications chief Jairam Ramesh said.
“This is supported by the fact that the solicitor-general suggested, as per news reports, that the government will give the names for the committee in a sealed cover for the consideration of the Supreme Court.”
Ramesh added: “Where the allegations are of close, intertwined proximity between the ruling dispensation and the Adani group, the setting up of a committee with terms of reference proposed by the Government of India can hardly carry any insignia or reassurance of independence or transparency.
“It is an exercise initiated by the two principal actors — the government and the Adani group — to cover up, avoid, evade and bury all genuine scrutiny.”
While hearing petitions on the Adani-Hindenburg controversy, the Supreme Court had on February 13 discussed the establishment of a committee of experts to examine the regulatory regime. The court directed the government to respond by February 17. Ramesh said it was imperative that the alleged links between Adani and the ruling dispensation were examined by elected officials accountable to the public. He asked the Prime Minister three questions:
■ The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), India’s premier anti-smuggling agency, found in 2014 that three Adani group companies — Maharashtra Eastern Grid Power Transmission, Adani Power Maharashtra, and Adani Power Rajasthan — had paid the Dubai-based Electrogen Infra FZE Rs 9,048 crore for power equipment imported from China and South Korea, which were worth Rs 3,580 crore, with the balance siphoned out of the country, Ramesh said.
“It turned out that Electrogen was controlled by Gautam Adani’s brother Vinod via a Mauritius-based entity, Electrogen Infra Holding. Somehow, after you became PM, the adjudicating officer of the DRI dismissed the charges although he acknowledged that ‘I find that EIF and APRL to be related entities through Shri Vinod Shantilal Adani’.”
“Are you protecting your close friends who are alleged to have siphoned off Rs 5,468 crore in this case alone? Are you not concerned that consumers and taxpayers ultimately foot the bill when capital costs are over-inflated by shady promoters?” Ramesh asked.
■ The DRI also investigated the 2004-06 “Diamond Scam” in which Gautam Adani’s younger brother Rajesh Adani and his brother-in-law Samir Vora were accused of circular trading of diamonds and over-invoicing to fraudulently claim export subsidies. These transactions were also allegedly carried out via offshore tax havens like Dubai and Singapore.
In 2013, the commissioner of customs imposed fines on Rajesh Adani, Samir Vora, Adani Enterprises and five diamond trading companies purportedly linked to the Adani group.
“However, in 2015, after you became PM, the customs, excise and service tax appellate tribunal set aside the commissioner’s order and dismissed the findings of the years-long investigation.”
■ Shell companies alleged to be controlled by Vinod Adani have poured huge funds into Adani group companies, Ramesh said. Records show that the UAE-based Emerging Market Investment DMCC loaned Rs 7,919 crore to the Adani Power subsidiary Mahan Energen in 2021-22, and the same year Adani Infrastructure received Rs 5,145 crore from the Mauritius-based Gardenia Trade and Investment, he added.
“Both entities have been linked to Vinod Adani. Both were able to lend huge amounts of money to the Adani group despite having no discernible business operations. Is this not worthy of investigation by the army of investigative agencies at your disposal?” Ramesh asked.