NEW DELHI – The Indian National Congress has launched a scathing attack on the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regarding its investigation into the Adani Group, alleging that the country’s institutions are “failing” the public under the Modi government’s tenure. The opposition party has called for the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to uncover the truth surrounding the matter.
The controversy stems from allegations made by the US research firm Hindenburg, which accused billionaire Gautam Adani’s conglomerate of “irregularities” and stock price manipulation. The Adani Group vehemently denied all the claims presented in the Hindenburg report, asserting its innocence.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh led the party’s criticism following a media report suggesting that SEBI may reveal to the Supreme Court that its inquiry into the Adani Group commenced in 2014 but stalled at some point. Ramesh shared the report on a social media platform, claiming that SEBI had initially attempted to conceal the fact that it had initiated an investigation against the Adani Group in 2014. He further alleged that SEBI would inform the Supreme Court that the “initial investigation did not yield anything.”
Ramesh stated, “Let us recall the sequence of events that SEBI singularly failed to unravel: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in 2014 had investigated the over-invoicing of power-generation equipment by the Adani Group that siphoned off an alleged USD 1 billion in funds. The proceeds of this scam were handled by two Vinod Adani associates, Chang Chung-Ling and Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli, via companies based in Mauritius and the UAE. It subsequently emerged that the same duo had set up two investment funds in Mauritius, Emerging India Focus Fund (EIFF), and EM Resurgent Fund (EMRF), that funneled major investments into Adani Group shares.”
According to Ramesh, by June 2016, these funds held substantial “benami” holdings in Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Adani Power, and Adani Transmission through shell companies registered in Mauritius, UAE, and the British Virgin Islands. He raised questions about how such a clear violation of laws related to round-tripping and minimum public shareholding went unnoticed, and he pondered whether external pressures influenced SEBI’s decision to give the Adani Group a clean chit. Ramesh also pointed out the apparent connection between the leadership of SEBI and Adani-owned channels.
In his closing remarks, Ramesh stated, “India’s institutions are failing its people under the Modi government. The truth of the ‘Modani’ scam will only be revealed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.”
The call for a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation represents a significant escalation in the ongoing dispute between the Indian National Congress and the Modi government over the Adani Group’s financial dealings. As the controversy continues to unravel, all eyes are on SEBI’s response to the allegations and whether a JPC will be convened to investigate the matter further.