Adani-Hindenburg row: Alleging conflict of interest against Expert Committee members, petitioner demands new panel : The Tribune India

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Adani-Hindenburg row: Alleging conflict of interest against Expert Committee members, petitioner demands new panel

The top court is likely to hear the Adani-Hindenburg case on October 13

Adani-Hindenburg row: Alleging conflict of interest against Expert Committee members, petitioner demands new panel

Photo used for representational purpose only. File Photo



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, September 18

Alleging conflict of interest against members of an Expert Committee set up by the Supreme Court to probe into allegations of accounting fraud and stock price manipulation against the Adani group in the Hindenburg report, a petitioner on Monday urged it to constitute a new expert panel to look into the allegations afresh.

“There is an apprehension that the present expert committee would fail to inspire confidence among the people of the country… It is therefore respectfully prayed, a fresh expert committee may be constituted by this Hon’ble Court with experts from the field of finance, law and stock market with impeccable integrity, and who have no conflict of interest in the outcome of the instant matter,” petitioner Anamika Jaiswal submitted.

The top court is likely to hear the Adani-Hindenburg case on October 13.

Jaiswal – a law student – who had last week alleged that market regulator SEBI suppressed crucial facts from the Supreme Court and “slept over” Directorate of Revenue Intelligence's letter on alleged stock manipulation by Adani firms –alleged that three members of the six-member Expert Committee were in situations of potential conflict of interest.

A three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud had on March 2 set up a six-member Expert Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge AM Sapre to investigate if there had been regulatory failure in dealing with alleged contravention of laws pertaining to the securities market in relation to the Adani Group or other companies in the wake of the January 24 Hindenburg Research report.

Other members of the expert committee were – former SBI Chairman OP Bhat, former Bombay High Court Judge JP Devdutt, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilakeni, former chief of the New Development Bank of BRICS Kamath and advocate Somasekharan Senderasan who was recently recommended for appointment as a judge of the Bombay High Court.

In an interim report submitted to the top court in May, the Justice Sapre Committee found no regulatory failure or signs of price manipulation in the rise and fall of the Adani Group's stocks. Adani Group – which lost close to USD 150 billion in market value following the Hindenburg report – has denied all the allegations.

Now, Jaiswal has alleged that Bhatt, Kamath and Senderasan were in conflict of interest situations. Bhatt is conflicted as he is also the head of renewable energy firm Greenko, which has commercial dealings with the Adani group, she alleged.

She cited Greenko's March 14, 2022, press statement announcing the supply of up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable electricity to Adani's proposed industrial complex and a partnership between the two being entered into in Davos. "The above shows a clear conflict of interest of Mr OP Bhatt which... ought to have been pointed out by Mr Bhatt himself," Jaiswal said.

“It has also come to the knowledge of the petitioner that Bhatt was examined by the CBI in March 2018 in a case of alleged wrongdoing in disbursing loans to the former liquor baron and fugitive economic offender, Vijay Mallya. Mallya is accused of defrauding banks, including SBI, of US $1.2 billion,” her plea read.

She alleged that Kamath -- who was ICICI Bank chairman between 1996 and 2009 -- had figured in a CBI FIR in the ICICI Bank fraud case relating to alleged kickbacks former MD and CEO Chanda Kocchar received for loans given to Videocon group while Sundaresan -- a lawyer -- had represented Adani at various forums including the SEBI board.

The Supreme Court had in its March 2 order also asked SEBI to investigate if there was any manipulation of stock prices in contravention of existing laws and if there was any failure to disclose transactions with related parties and other relevant information concerning related parties to the market regulator.

The SEBI told the Supreme Court on August 25 that 22 of the 24 investigations into allegations of market manipulation against Adani Group levelled in the Hindenburg report have been finalised while the remaining two were of interim nature. The market regulator said it “shall take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigations in accordance with law…”

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#Gautam Adani #Hindenburg Report #Supreme Court


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