Cong seeks probe into fraud charges against Adani; share rout tops $100 bln

The logo of the Adani Group is seen on the facade of its Corporate House on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. File photo: Reuters

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday demanded an impartial investigation under the supervision of the Supreme Court or a joint parliamentary committee to probe the charges raised in the Hindenburg report against the Adani Group.

A joint opposition raised the Hindenburg report in both the Houses of Parliament demanding a discussion on the issue. The opposition parties also created an uproar after adjournment notices by several members in this regard were rejected by the chair in both the Houses, leading to adjournment of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the day. No business was transacted in the Houses.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the opposition parties have also called for day-to-day reporting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or the SC-monitored probe into the issue concerning public money.

"Keeping public interest in mind, we want a thorough probe into the Adani issue either by a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a Supreme Court-monitored probe. There should also be day-to-day reporting of the investigation on the issue," he told reporters.

Kharge said on behalf of like-minded opposition parties, he demands either a JPC or an SC-monitored investigation in the manner in which government owned companies "are forced to invest in firms that have been exposed by the Hindenburg report".

He said along with him eight other opposition MPs had given notices in the Rajya Sabha for a discussion on the Adani Group crisis and investment of PSUs like LIC and SBI in the Group.

Whenever we have given a notice, it has not been accepted by the chair, the Congress leader said, noting that this is the reason all opposition parties jointly decided to raise the issue in the Upper House.

"That is why, we decided to raise the (Adani) issue in one voice in the House as crores of money of common people is invested in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), and public money in banks is being given to such companies against whom foreign agencies have come out with charges of irregularities," he said.

AICC head of media and publicity department, Pawan Khera said the Congress has raised three important demands from the Narendra Modi government.

"An impartial investigation under the Chief Justice of Supreme Court, with day-to-day reports, should be carried out, or a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should be formed to investigate the Hindenburg Research report in detail," he said at a press conference.

"Adani's risky investments in LIC, SBI and other nationalised banks should be discussed in Parliament and appropriate steps should be taken to protect the investors," he said.

Congress leader and whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore, who had given an adjournment notice in the Lower House to discuss the row, also said that the party wants a JPC probe into the entire matter along with a discussion on the issue.

Congress MP Manish Tewari tweeted "JPC on Adani Saga" and said the party will demand that a JPC be constituted to investigate the allegations.

"It is not a question about one promoter, but about the efficacy of the entire regulatory system," he said, adding that the Congress and other political parties demand JPC on "a-la-affaire Adani".

Earlier, the Congress was supported by several other opposition parties, including the DMK, TMC, SP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, BRS, NCP, IUML, NC, AAP, Kerala Congress and the RJD in demanding the JPC probe or SC-monitored investigation into the row.

Khera said the Congress strongly underlines that when Rahul Gandhi talks about "Suit Boot Ki Sarkar", "Hum Do, Hamare Do" and now "Mitra Kaal", he is not talking about any particular industrialist, "he is talking about the murky system that Modi ji has set up for his selected friends to loot the country".

"We are not against any particular Indian corporate house, we are against crony capitalism. When the rules are changed to benefit selected billionaires, we are against it," he said, alleging that "Hum Do Hamare Do" of "Mitra Kaal" are brazenly selling the "Family Silver" of the nation.

The 'saheb' has left no stone unturned in sinking the deposits of crores of Indians," he said, asking when will the serious allegations made by Hindenburg Research against Adani be investigated.

He also said the Modi government has maintained a stoic silence on the report.

"We want to tell PM Modi that we have nothing to say if you cheat your best friend, but shall not keep quiet if you cheat the investors of India - 29 crore policy holders of LIC and 45 crore account holders of SBI," the Congress leader said.

"The family silver of the country is at stake due to the sinking of the Adani Group, the hard-earned money of crores of investors and crores of policy holders is at risk," he alleged.

Adani Group stocks have taken a beating on the bourses after Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations in its report, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation at the Gautam Adani-led group.

Adani Group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements. It called the Hindenburg report baseless and has threatened to sue the short seller.

Losses top $100 billion
Adani Group's market losses swelled to more than $100 billion on Thursday, sparking worries about their potential systemic impact, a day after its flagship company abandoned a $2.5 billion stock offering.

Adani Enterprises shares plunged 27% on Thursday, closing at their lowest level since March 2022.

Other group companies also lost further ground, with 10% losses at Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy and Adani Transmission, while Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone shed nearly 7%.

Since Hindenburg's report on Jan. 24, group companies have lost nearly half their combined market value. Adani Enterprises - described as an incubator of Adani's businesses - has lost $26 billion in market capitalisation.

Adani is also no longer Asia's richest person, having slid to 16th in the Forbes rankings of the world's wealthiest people, with his net worth almost halved to $64.6 billion in a week.

(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)

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