Adani-Hindenburg row: Plea in SC seeks new panel with ‘no conflicts of interest’

Adani-Hindenburg row: Plea in SC seeks new panel with ‘no conflicts of interest’

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  • September 18, 2023
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A new intervening application has been submitted in the Supreme Court requesting the formation of a fresh expert committee comprising individuals with unblemished integrity and no conflicts of interest in the matter related to the Hindenburg report.

The application has been filed by one of the petitioners, Anamika Jaiswal, through her advocate Ramesh Kumar Mishra.

The application highlights concerns about certain members of the existing committees, suggesting conflicts of interest. In March 2023, the Supreme Court established an Expert Committee to investigate allegations made against the Adani Group in the Hindenburg Report and examine potential regulatory failures.

The committee, chaired by Justice (Retd.) Abhay Manohar Sapre, included members O P Bhatt, Justice J P Devadhar, KV Kamath, Nandan Nilekani, and Somashekhar Sundaresan.

The application specifically questions the involvement of OP Bhatt, a member of the Expert Committee and former Chairman of the State Bank of India, who is presently the Chairman of Greenko, a renewable energy company.

It notes that Greenko and the Adani Group have been in a close partnership since March 2022 to provide energy to Adani’s facilities in India.

K V Kamath, another member of the committee, was Chairman of ICICI Bank from 1996 to 2009 and was mentioned in a CBI FIR related to the ICICI Bank fraud case.

The case revolved around Chanda Kochhar, who served as the Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank from 2009 to 2018. The CBI alleged that she and her family received kickbacks in exchange for loans provided to the Videocon group, many of which became non-performing assets (NPAs) during her tenure.

Kamath was the non-executive chairman of the bank at the time some of these loans were approved and was also a member of the committee that sanctioned them.

The petitioner had previously raised concerns about another committee member, Somashekhar Sundaresan, citing his representation of Adani before various forums, including the SEBI Board.

Recent developments indicate that out of the 24 investigations stemming from the Hindenburg report, 22 have concluded, while two remain interim in nature, according to a report filed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) with the Supreme Court.

SEBI stated that it had sought information from external agencies/entities and would evaluate it concerning the interim investigation reports.

Appropriate action would be taken based on the outcome of the investigations, SEBI assured, in accordance with the law.

The Supreme Court had granted SEBI an additional three months in May to conduct its probe into the Hindenburg report.

The Court had directed SEBI on March 2 this year to investigate potential violations of securities laws by the Adani Group following the Hindenburg report’s release, which led to a significant decline in the group’s market value.

Various petitions related to the Hindenburg report, including those addressing regulatory mechanisms to protect investors’ interests, have been filed in the Supreme Court.

The January 24 Hindenburg report had alleged stock manipulation and fraud by the conglomerate, a claim that the Adani Group vehemently refuted, calling the report a lie by an unethical short seller.

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Updated: 18 Sep 2023, 03:27 PM IST

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