‘Adani in a spot as India to restart coal imports probe’
Since 2016 the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has been trying to procure transaction documents related to Adani’s dealings from Singapore authorities
Research accused Adani of
improper use of tax havens
and stock manipulation
INDIAN investigators are seeking to restart a probe into Adani Group for alleged overvaluation of coal imports and have asked the Supreme Court to allow them to collect evidence from Singapore, a step they say the company thwarted for years, legal documents show.
Since 2016 the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has been trying to procure transaction documents related to Adani’s dealings from Singapore authorities.
The agency suspects many of the group’s coal shipments imported from Indonesian suppliers were first billed at higher prices on paper to its Singapore unit, Adani Global Pte, and then to its Indian arms.
Adani Enterprises and its subsidiaries, led by billionaire Gautam Adani, have successfully mounted repeated legal challenges in India and Singapore to block the documents’ release, court papers show.
Adani has denied wrongdoing, saying Indian authorities assessed its coal shipments before releasing them from ports.
In an October 9 legal filing the revenue intelligence agency asked India’s top court to quash a lower court order that allowed Adani to block authorities from collecting evidence from Singapore.
The Indian officials dispute Adani’s arguments that the agency did not follow “due process”, saying in the filing it had approval to seek information from the southeast Asian city-state under a mutual legal assistance treaty.
“Permission for following this route was obtained from the Ministry of Finance as well as (the) Ministry of Home Affairs,” the 25-page filing states, adding that the investigation “is completely in compliance”. In a statement to Reuters, Adani Group said it had “fully co-operated” with the authorities by providing details and documents sought more than four years ago and that “no deficiency or objection” was communicated by investigators thereafter.
The Indian revenue agency did not respond to Reuters’ queries.
The effort to revive the coal probe comes amid wider regulatory scrutiny of Adani since Hindenburg Research in January accused the tycoon and his conglomerate of improper use of tax havens and stock manipulation.
Despite Adani’s denials, the short seller’s report triggered a $150 billion (£120bn) plunge in the group’s stocks. India’s Supreme Court is also overseeing the market regulator’s probe of Hindenburg’s allegations.
The revenue agency began looking into Adani’s imports as part of a broader investigation into 40 companies that started in 2014. Investigators alleged the companies importing Indonesian coal were overinvoicing deliveries by showing bills of shipments routed through intermediaries in Singapore and elsewhere.
Indian authorities reviewed 1,300 shipments involving Adani and alleged in court filings that it “grossly overstated” or “artificially inflated the import value of coal” as compared with the export value from Indonesia, “with the objective of siphoning off” funds to tax havens and charging higher power prices in India.
The sums involved may run into billions of rupees, according to the agency, which has not identified any Indonesian supplier. The case was not heard for around two years, until the revenue agency told the Supreme Court in July that it wanted to update judges about certain events in Singapore, without elaborating. It then lodged its October filing in a fresh bid to obtain evidence.