No data on offshore shell firms, says Centre
The response comes amid allegations of stock manipulation through shell companies against the Adani Group.
The Centre told Parliament last week that it does not have data on offshore shell companies owned by Indian citizens.
The submission was made in response to a question by Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP John Brittas. Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha that an offshore company is not defined in the Acts administered by his ministry.
The response came amid allegations raised by US investment firm Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group.
The report has alleged that Vinod Adani, the elder brother of Adani Group chairperson Gautam Adani, is responsible for creating and managing a vast network of offshore shell entities meant for stock parking, market manipulation and laundering money, to help the conglomerate’s companies maintain their appearance of financial health.
Another report by The Morning Context has claimed that Vinod Adani is the beneficiary owner of cement companies Ambuja Cements and its subsidiary ACC Limited through offshore firms. The report was significant as the Adani Group had last year announced the acquisition of the two cement companies under its own regulatory filings.
In response to Centre’s claim, Brittas cited a 2018 statement from the Union Ministry of Finance, which had said that it has set up a task force on shell companies.
“If the GOI [government of India] doesn’t know what is a shell company, how did they appoint a task force on this, a million dollar question indeed,” Brittas said on Monday.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said how can the government take action against Adani Group if the finance ministry does not know the definition of shell firm. “Written answer in RS says no clue hence no action,” she added.
The Opposition has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government of extending favours to the Adani Group in securing number of business deals and has called for an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. However, the ruling party has continued to avoid answering questions regarding the allegations.