The Adani Group of India on Thursday (31), retaliated against a recent report probing alleged manipulation of the conglomerate’s share prices. The group accused the report’s authors of collaborating to deliberately lower its stock value for personal gain.
The conglomerate, which operates across global ports and power sectors, experienced a reduction of approximately $120 billion in its market worth after allegations of “brazen” corporate fraud by US short-seller investment firm Hindenburg Research.
In a revelation made on Wednesday, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said that it had unearthed financial records substantiating Hindenburg’s assertions, that Adani had used offshore tax havens and related party transactions to drive up its share price.
The report said two men who had served as directors in Adani Group companies had spent years trading stock in the conglomerate “through offshore structures that obscured their involvement”.
Adani said in a Thursday statement that it “categorically” rejected the OCCRP’s findings and accused the investigative journalism network of seeking to profit by “driving down our stock prices”.
“We have complete faith in the due process of law and remain confident of the quality of our disclosures and corporate governance standards,” it said.
“In light of these facts, the timing of these news reports is suspicious, mischievous and malicious.”
A meteoric rise in Adani Group’s share prices — its main listed unit shot up more than 1,000 per cent in five years — funded the conglomerate’s breakneck expansion.
Billionaire founder Gautam Adani, who was until this year the world’s third-richest man, lost two-thirds of his net worth in the wake of the Hindenburg allegations.
He is considered a close associate of Hindu-nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi, a fellow native of Gujarat state.
Opposition parties and other critics say their relationship helped Adani to unfairly win business and avoid proper oversight.
His empire’s rapid expansion into capital-intensive businesses has raised alarms, with Fitch subsidiary and market researcher CreditSights warning last year that Adani Group was “deeply overleveraged”.
Shares in the conglomerate’s flagship Adani Enterprises fell dramatically after the January allegations by Hindenburg, a short-seller that not only tracks corporate wrongdoing but also makes money by betting on stocks falling.
They remain 35 per cent down from the start of the year, falling another 2.4 per cent in Thursday morning trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
India’s securities regulator is expected to soon release the findings of a probe into Adani Group launched in the wake of the Hindenburg allegations.