Congress MP Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday wrote to Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das and Securities and Exchange Board of India Madhabi Puri Buch, seeking an investigation into allegations against the Adani Group.
On January 24, a report by United-States based firm Hindenburg Research accused the conglomerate of manipulating stocks and improperly using tax havens. The Hindenburg report plunged the group led by billionaire Gautam Adani into crisis, wiping about $120 billion in market value.
Ramesh on Wednesday urged the central bank to ensure that the Adani Group’s “excessive debt exposure” does not destabilise the country’s banking system. He also alleged in a tweet that the conglomerate has the blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress general secretary in charge of communications urged the Reserve Bank of India to look into two matters: “One, what is the true Adani exposure of the Indian banking system? Two, what are the explicit and implicit guarantees that the Adani Group has been given that it will be bailed out by Indian banks if foreign funding dries up?”
Ramesh said that public sector financial institutions such as the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the State Bank of India have been “unusually generous” towards the Adani Group in recent years. “The RBI must ensure that risks to financial stability are investigated and contained,” he said.
In the letter to the SEBI chief, the Congress MP said that the markets watchdog must investigate all potential violations by the Adani Group and ensure transparancy about who is investing in the conglomerate.
Ramesh said that such an investigation must be seen as fair and complete, with no favours shown to the group. “Any failure to do so will cast a shadow on Indian corporate governance and on India’s financial regulators, and could affect our ability to raise funds globally,” he wrote.
The Congress leader said that the Adani Group’s flagship firm Adani Enterprises was included on the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty 50 index in September “despite the firm’s weak fundamentals, an excessive price-to-earnings ratio and a tiny free float”. A free float refers to the proportion of shares that can be bought publicly in the securities markets by international investors.
“In recent days, global stock indices have suspended Adani Group companies while the matter is investigated, but the NSE has failed to take any similar action to protect investors,” Ramesh noted. “Is it not SEBI’s responsibility to ensure that index investors are protected from investing in questionable firms?”
SC to hear PIL seeking probe on February 17
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it will hear a petition by a Congress leader seeking an investigation into the Adani Group on February 17, PTI reported.
The public interest litigation, filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur, has sought an investigation under the supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge. She has also sought a direction to investigate the role of the Life Insurance Corporation of India and State Bank of India in investing large amounts of money in the now-embattled conglomerate.
On Monday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it has no objection to its proposal to form an expert committee for seeking recommendation on strengthening the regulatory framework.