25 Jan 2023, 16:36

Adani stocks fall in India on fraud, stock manipulation claims

MUMBAI, Jan 25, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Asia's richest man Gautam Adani saw his net 
worth drop six billion dollars on Wednesday after a US investment firm 
accused him of "brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud".

Adani, 60, is the world's third-richest person, with an estimated fortune of 
around $120 billion and interests ranging from Australian coal mines to 
India's busiest ports.

But the magnate was the biggest loser on Forbes' real-time billionaires list 
on Wednesday, dropping nearly five percent -- or $6.4 billion -- of his net 
worth overnight as investors rushed to sell shares in his group of companies.

Hindenburg Research published a report on Tuesday alleging that Adani Group 
"has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over 
the course of decades".

The firm said it had taken a short position in Adani Group companies after a 
two-year investigation based on interviews with former executives, site 
visits in multiple countries and document reviews.

Its report claims that Adani's elder brother Vinod "manages a vast labyrinth 
of offshore shell entities" in tax havens including Mauritius, Cyprus and 
several Caribbean islands.

Hindenburg said it had identified numerous instances of undisclosed related-
party transactions and earnings manipulation "to maintain the appearance of 
financial health and solvency" of listed Adani companies.

The allegations come ahead of an ambitious $2.5 billion follow-on public 
offer -- India's biggest-ever -- due to open for bids on Friday and aimed at 
bolstering the business empire's balance sheet.

"The report is a malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, 
baseless and discredited allegations," Adani Group chief financial officer 
Jugeshinder Singh said in a statement.

Singh added that the report had been deliberately timed to undermine the 
conglomerate's reputation "with the principal objective of damaging the 
upcoming follow-on public offering".

- 'Afraid to speak out' -

Adani Group is India's second-largest conglomerate, with the combined market 
capitalisation of its seven listed companies exceeding $218 billion.

Shares in Adani business units have soared up to 2,000 percent in the past 
three years, adding more than $100 billion to its founder's net worth and 
vaulting him up the ranks of the world's richest people.

Critics of the billionaire attribute his meteoric rise to a close association 
with Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and support for his 

Hindenburg's report said there had been a pattern of "government leniency 
towards the group" stretching back decades.

"We believe the Adani Group has been able to operate a large, flagrant fraud 
in broad daylight in large part because investors, journalists, citizens and 
even politicians have been afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal," the 
report said.

Shares in flagship Adani Enterprises fell as much as three percent on 
Wednesday, before recovering to trade 1.41 percent lower in the afternoon.

Other business units fell as much as 6.5 percent over the day's trade.

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