Hindenburg 2.0: OCCRP Alleges Mauritius-Based Opaque Funds Invested in Adani Stock
New Delhi: The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on Thursday trained guns at billionaire Gautam Adani's group, alleging hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in publicly traded group stocks through Mauritius-based 'opaque' investment funds managed by partners of promoter family, charges the conglomerate denied vehemently.
The fresh allegations by an international investigative organisation funded by people such as George Soros and Rockefeller Brothers Fund come months after a US short-seller’s report wiped away close to $150 billion in value of Adani group stocks with allegations of accounting fraud, stock price manipulation and improper use of tax havens by the ports-to-energy conglomerate run by billionaire Gautam Adani. Adani Group has denied all Hindenburg allegations.
Citing review of files from multiple tax havens and internal Adani Group emails, OCCRP said its investigation found at least two cases where the "mysterious" investors bought and sold Adani stock through such offshore structures.
The two men, Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli and Chang Chung-Ling, who OCCRP claimed have longtime business ties to the Adani family and have also served as directors and shareholders in Group companies and firms associated with Gautam Adani's elder brother Vinod Adani, "spent years buying and selling Adani stock through offshore structures that obscured their involvement - and made considerable profits in the process."
The documents "show that the management company in charge of their investments paid a Vinod Adani company to advise them in their investment", it alleged.
Adani in a statement categorically rejected what it called as "recycled allegations", calling them "yet another concerted bid by Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the meritless Hindenburg report".
"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 over-valuation and that the transactions were in accordance with applicable law. The matter attained finality in March 2023 when the Supreme Court of India ruled in our favour. Clearly, since there was no over-valuation, there is no relevance or foundation for these allegations on transfer of funds," it said.
The foreign portfolio investors named in the OCCRP report "are already part of the investigation by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)", it said. "As per the Expert Committee appointed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, there is no evidence of any breach of the Minimum Public Shareholding (MPS) requirements or manipulation of stock prices."
"These attempts are aimed at, inter alia, generating profits by driving down our stock prices and these short sellers are under investigation by various authorities. As the Supreme Court and SEBI are overseeing these matters, it is vital to respect the ongoing regulatory process," it said. "We have complete faith in the due process of law and remain confident of the quality of our disclosures and corporate governance standards. In light of these facts, the timing of these news reports is suspicious, mischievous and malicious - and we reject these reports in their entirety."
PTI had on August 24 reported that the Soros-funded organisation, an investigative reporting platform formed by 24 non-profit investigative centres... spread across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, is planning publication of fresh allegations against a top Indian corporate.
OCCRP asked if Ahli and Chang should be considered to be acting on behalf of Adani promoters. "If so, their stake in the Adani Group would mean that insiders altogether owned more than the 75 per cent allowed by law," it said, adding this violated Indian listing law.
It went on to state that there was no evidence Chang and Ahli's money for their investments coming from the Adani family, but said its investigation showed there "is evidence" that their trading in Adani stock "was coordinated with the family".
The Adani Group's rise has been staggering, growing from under USD 8 billion in market capitalization in September 2013 -- the year before Modi became prime minister -- to USD 260 billion last year," it said.
The conglomerate is active in a dizzying array of fields, including transportation and logistics, natural gas distribution, coal trade and production, power generation and transmission, road construction, data centres, and real estate.
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