Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India:
The Adani Group, India’s leading integrated business conglomerate, issued a media statement against Financial Times, for repeatedly planting defamatory reports against it.
Having failed in previous attempts, this time FT is recycling a seven-year-old unsubstantiated allegation based on a circular, which lists 40 Indian coal importing entities including Adani, for overpricing coal imports. The 40 names include all major Indian power generators. However, FT is deliberately singling out Adani. This is evident from a large set of queries shared by one of their reporters’ seeking responses from the Group.
The Financial Times started its misleading campaign in March 2023. It published a factually incorrect story regarding funds raised by the Adani Group. This incorrect reporting confused investors and spread wrong information in the markets, thus damaging the Group’s credibility. In the past nine months, FT has published over 20 stories and a video to amplify such false and baseless information. It is not a mere coincidence that such stories have an uncanny ability to appear just before the hearing dates of important cases in India’s courts.
The next Supreme Court hearing on the Adani–Hindenburg case is scheduled on 13 October 2023. FT’s last story, titled ‘Secret Paper trail reveals Adani’s hidden investors’, was strategically timed just before the last court hearing in August 2023.
Adani Group issued the following statement on 9 October 2023:
“There is a renewed attempt by the Financial Times and its collaborators to rehash old and baseless allegations to tarnish the name and standing of the Adani Group. This is part of their extended campaign to advance vested interests under the guise of public interest.
Continuing their relentless campaign, the next attack is being fronted by Dan McCrum of the Financial Times, who jointly with the OCCRP put out a false narrative against the Adani Group on 31 August 2023. The OCCRP is funded by George Soros, who has openly declared his hostility against the Adani Group.
Having failed earlier, the FT is making another effort to financially destabilise the Adani Group by raking up an old, baseless allegation of over-invoicing of coal imports. The FT’s proposed story is based on the DRI’s General Alert Circular No.11/2016/CI dated 30 March 2016. The FT’s brazen agenda is exposed by the fact that they have singled out the Adani Group, while the DRI’s Circular, the raison d’être for the whole story, mentions as many as 40 importers including the Adani Group companies. This list not only includes some of India’s major private power generators like Reliance Infra, JSW Steels and Essar but also the state power generating companies of Karnataka, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, etc. and the NTPC and MSTC.
It is noteworthy that, in the case of Knowledge Infrastructure, one of the 40 importers mentioned in the General Alert Circular, the DRI’s Show Cause Notice alleging over-valuation in the import of coal was quashed by the appellate tribunal (CESTAT). Further, the DRI’s appeal was dismissed as withdrawn by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 24 January 2023 with the observation that “we appreciate the stand taken by the Government in not entering into futile litigation.” Clearly, the issue of overvaluation in the import of coal was conclusively settled by India’s highest court of law.
The FT’s proposed storyline is a clever recycling and selective misrepresentation of publicly available facts and information with a deliberate and mischievous suppression of judicial decisions to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. It shows scant respect for India’s regulatory and judicial processes and authorities. It also deliberately ignores the fact that coal procurement in India on long-term supply basis is done through an open, transparent, global bidding process thereby eliminating any possibility of price manipulation. Tariff fixation by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) is an open, transparent, independent process where the tariffs are fixed after carefully evaluating all variables and in consultations with the power generator, distributor and retail consumers. So, clearly, the multiple stakeholders have multiple opportunities to look at all aspects determining the tariffs, including the import value of coal. Hence the question of over invoicing or price manipulation does not arise.
It is unfortunate that some foreign entities like the OCCRP, supported by a section of the foreign media, short-sellers and domestic collaborators, have launched a series of attacks against the Adani Group with the primary intent of dragging down its market value. In fact, these individuals and groups, bound by the common objective of damaging the Adani Group, have developed a playbook which is being executed to perfection by a well-oiled and professional machinery working in sync both within India and abroad.
It is not mere coincidence that such stories have an uncanny ability to appear just before the hearing dates of important cases in India’s courts.
While we deny all such allegations, which are false and baseless, we also condemn such deliberate, and motivated attempts to destabilise the Adani Group. We are a law-abiding company which is fully compliant with all rules, regulations and disclosure requirements with full respect for the rule of law.”