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The US short-seller Hindenburg Research, in a report released on January 24 this year, alleged accounting fraud, stock price manipulation and improper use of tax havens by the Adani Group, triggering a stock market rout | File photo

Adani-Hindenburg row | SEBI failure to reach conclusion worrying: Congress

The remarks came after the market regulator informed the Supreme Court that it has completed the probe in all but two allegations against the Adani Group

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The Congress on Saturday (August 26) said the inability of stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to reach a conclusive finding on the allegations of round-tripping and money laundering by the Adani Group was “deeply worrying”.

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said the SEBI has admitted this in its status report to the Supreme Court and added that only a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) can examine how the government flouted norms and procedures to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “favourite business group”.

“The inability of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to reach a conclusive finding on allegations of round-tripping and money laundering by the Adani Group, as it has admitted in its 25th August 2023 status report to the Supreme Court, is deeply troubling,” Ramesh said in a statement.

Sharing the statement on X, formerly Twitter, he posted, “SEBI's inability to reach a final conclusion in the matter of round-tripping and money-laundering allegations against the Adani Group is deeply worrying.”

The Congress leader said that of the 24 matters SEBI investigated relating to the matter, two still have interim status.

Ramesh said one of the interim reports relates to the important question of whether Gautam Adani violated the Minimum Public Shareholding requirement under Rule 19A of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Rules. “In simple terms, did Adani use opaque entities based in overseas tax havens to engage in the kind of round-tripping and money laundering that the PM has always claimed to oppose? SEBI has stated that the reason for delay is that information from external agencies and entities is still awaited,” he added.

The country, Ramesh said, is clearly paying a heavy price for the SEBI's decision in 2018 to dilute and in 2019 to delete the reporting requirements relating to the ultimate beneficial ownership of foreign funds.

The Congress leader noted no less than the Supreme Court's Expert Committee pointed out that the reason the SEBI has failed to identify beneficial ownership of overseas investors in Adani companies was that "the securities market regulator suspects wrongdoing" but is "drawing a blank worldwide" due to its “piquant” decision to remove these stipulations.

“The reintroduction of strict reporting rules following the SEBI board's 28 June 2023 meeting represents a public admission of guilt by the regulatory body, even though the horse has bolted the stable,” Ramesh claimed.

“Final reports on these critical questions are awaited. Will the SEBI do its fiduciary duty and identify the source of the Rs 20,000 crore of benami overseas funds that have flowed into the Adani Group?” he asked.

The Congress leader said only a JPC can examine how the Modi government “flouted rules, norms and procedures to help the PM's favourite business group...”

The SEBI on Friday (August 25) informed the apex court that it has completed the probe in all but two allegations against the Adani Group and is still awaiting information from five tax havens on actual owners behind foreign investors investing in the conglomerate.

The US short-seller Hindenburg Research, in a report released on January 24 this year, alleged accounting fraud, stock price manipulation and improper use of tax havens by the Adani Group, triggering a stock market rout.

The Adani Group has denied all allegations by Hindenburg.

(With agency inputs)

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