Indian Business Tycoon’s Australia Dream in Trouble
Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani has been accused of siphoning off Rs 15 billion of money borrowed from banks into overseas tax havens. An investigation carried by the Guardian Australia throws light on how the Adani Group ‘channeled the Indian taxpayers’ money to a company owned by a Mauritius-based trust.’ While the Guardian’s investigation has been widely reported in India, environmental activists in Australia are likely to intensify their protests against Adani’s $16.5-billion coal mine project in Australia.
Referring to a copy of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, DRI’s investigation report of 2014, the Guardian reported that the Adani Group ‘inflated invoices for an electricity project to move out money to offshore bank accounts.’ The investigation does not hint upon the involvement of the banks in the alleged transactions.
Denying the allegations, Adani group said that it is co-operating with the investigation agencies. “It may be noted that Mr Vinod Adani who is the elder brother of Mr Gautam Adani has been a non-resident Indian for about 30 years and has his own established business interests outside India. Adani Group is aware of the investigations being conducted by the DRI, and has fully cooperated, and shall continue to cooperate with the investigating agencies,” the Group said in a statement to the publication.
The group is seeking funds not just to build the mines but also a railway line to transport coal from the site to a port.
Photo Credit: Bigstock
Trouble in Australia
The global mining giant is seeking public funds in Australia to develop one of the world’s largest coal mines in Queensland, an area surrounded by wetlands and coral reefs. However, the proposed project has been a source of intense controversy in Australia over the years. The mining project that faced huge resistance from environmental activists and inhabitants of the place is seen as a ‘threat’ to Australia’s national treasure. The environment groups argue that the mine will contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef.
In April this year, the state government in Queensland gave the Adani group the final approval to go ahead with the mine. The ‘water licence’ gave it access to 9.5 billion litres of groundwater, reported Australian news portal news.com. In August this year, media reports indicated that the group hired a funding adviser in Australia to secure money for the coal mines.
But Adani’s bid to seek a federal loan of A$900 million from Australia’s Northern Territory Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) program may land in soup after the current revelations. The group is seeking funds not just to build the mines but also a railway line to transport coal from the site to a port.
The Australian Dream
A recent report by Environmental Justice Australia highlighted a long list of allegations of environmental damage caused by Adani Enterprises and its subsidiaries around the world. The report also details the evidence in support of allegations of illegal business dealings by the Adani group, reported Guardian. The government support for the mining project, however, has continued. Alleviating ‘energy poverty’ and job creation have been the supporting arguments behind the Australian green signal to the Adani group.
What remains to be seen though is whether the high-level investigations in India can derail Adani’s Australian dream forever.