Gautam Adani is an Indian billionaire industrialist who is the chairman and founder of Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate with interests in ports, airports, power generation and transmission, green energy, logistics, and more. According to Forbes, Gautam Adani's net worth was estimated to be around $126.4 billion before the Hindenburg report came out.
Adani has been in the spotlight recently due to a short-selling report from Hindenburg Research which accused his business empire of fraud and stock manipulation. This caused his wealth to drop by half in a matter of days. The report also sparked protests from Indian activists against the Adani Group. The controversy has led to Bangladesh asking for a discount on its coal electricity deal with Adani Group as well as debates in India's Parliament between Rahul Gandhi and Government ministers over remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gautam Adani.
The Hindenburg Report alleges numerous instances of corruption and unethical practices by Adani. The report claims that the company has used improper accounting tactics to hide the true size of its carbon emissions, illicitly diverted funds meant for public benefits to its own pockets, and circumvented Indian laws in order to secure government subsidies and tax exemptions. Additionally, the report alleges that Adani has deliberately misled investors about the environmental impact of its Carmichael coal mine project and made false statements regarding its profitability in order to increase investment. Finally, the report claims that Adani has dodged scrutiny from regulators by creating ghost subsidiaries and transferring funds between countries.
Gautam Adani, Wikimedia Commons
The Adani controversy has been ongoing since 2017. Here is a timeline of the key events related to other controversies:
2017: Leaked documents reveal that Adani had paid a close friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi $3 million in order to secure a $20 billion loan from the Bank of India.
2018: The Australian government approves Adani's Carmichael coal mine project, despite concerns about its potential environmental and social impacts.
March 2018: It is revealed Adani had fraudulently misrepresented the size of its Carmichael coal mine in order to secure approval from the Australian government.
August 2019: The Queensland government announces it would not provide grant funding for the proposed Adani railway line, raising further doubts over the viability of the project.
October 2019: A leaked document reveals that Adani planned to use illegal methods to access groundwater for its controversial Carmichael coal mine project.
November 2019: A group of First Nations elders takes legal action against Adani, arguing that the company had failed to consult with them regarding the development of their ancestral lands.
In response to the Hindenburg Report on Adani, the company has vehemently denied all allegations of unethical behavior and wrongdoing. Adani Group’s chairman Gautam Adani issued a statement saying, “Our commitment to ethical business practices is unwavering and we reject any suggestion that our environmental or governance standards have been compromised.” Adani also countered the report's allegations with a series of press releases outlining their rebuttals, including that they had not diverted funds from public benefits to private use and that their accounts are in full compliance with Indian laws. The company continues to maintain its stance that all its activities have been carried out lawfully and ethically.
The Adani controversy has been far-reaching, sparking debates in India's Parliament and leading to a discount on coal electricity deals with the Adani Group. With Gautam Adani's wealth dropping by half in a matter of days due to the short-selling report from Hindenburg Research, it remains to be seen how this controversy will continue to evolve over time. Whether or not there is any truth to the claims made in the report, it is certain that this situation has had an impact both nationally and internationally.