The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is seeking to restart its investigation into allegations that the Adani Group overvalued coal imports, reported Reuters. It has asked the Supreme Court to allow it to collect evidence from Singapore.
In 2016, the tax intelligence agency had issued a circular alleging that Adani Group companies were being investigated for “artificially inflating” coal imports from Indonesia to siphon off money abroad and to get higher power tariff compensation.
The agency alleged that the coal shipments from Indonesia were directly imported to India but were first billed at higher prices at the conglomerate’s Singapore unit, Adani Global Pte. Since 2016, the agency has been trying to get transaction documents through letters rogatory related to the conglomerate’s dealings in Singapore.
Letters rogatory are formal requests to foreign countries to seek judicial help in investigating offshore entities.
In October 2019, the Bombay High Court had quashed all the letters rogatory on the Adani Group’s appeal. However, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court’s order in January 2020 but did not quash it.
On October 9 this year, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, in a filing seen by Reuters, asked the Supreme Court to quash the High Court order as it prevents the agency from obtaining evidence from Singapore.
The agency also dismissed the submissions of the Adani Group that it has not followed the “due process”, arguing that it received approval from India’s Ministry of Finance as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs to seek information from Singapore under a mutual legal assistance treaty.
The conglomerate, however, told Reuters that it had fully cooperated with the authorities and provided documents it had asked over four years ago. A statement added that the investigators did not communicate any “deficiency or objection”.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence is also investigating other conglomerates, including the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and Essar Group, for the alleged overvaluation of coal imports.
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After Supreme Court of India allows the agency to gather evidence in the city-state, it would need the approval of Singapore’s Court of Appeal to release the documents it needs.
The office of Singapore Attorney General Lucien Wong told Reuters that the country’s court has not decided on the merits of the Adani Group’s appeal to not release the documents and the case was still pending, reported Reuters.
Two officials said that the Singapore court had refused to release the documents in 2020 as the matter was pending before the Supreme Court of India, which will now hear the case on February 6.
A Directorate of Revenue Intelligence official related to the investigation told the news agency that the evidence from 20 banks in Singapore could help the agency establish a financial trail in the case.