Calls for investigation into coal giant Adani in wake of tax haven scandal

Calls for an investigation into Indian coal giant Adani are rapidly growing, with revelations of a new financial scandal around its massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin over the weekend.

According to an explosive report in the Sydney Morning Herald there are inconsistencies between the conglomerate’s Indian and Australian financial reports, and more concerningly: that Adani’s Abbot Point coal port could be controlled by a shadowy web of companies run out of a Cayman Islands tax haven.

Fairfax reports that most of the companies associated with Adani’s Australian coal operations are controlled by Gautam Adani’s eldest brother Vinod, who has been named in a criminal investigation into the alleged siphoning of $1 billion from Indian shareholders into offshore accounts.

“These disturbing new allegations […] call into question the legitimacy of the approvals process for Abbot Point and the Galilee Basin coal mines. If Adani can’t conduct its operations above board and with transparency, how can the public trust it to protect our environment, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?” 350.og Australia CEO Blair Palese.

The Indian conglomerate has a history of environmental destruction, non-compliance with regulations and human rights abuses, yet despite this and the risks the project creates to the Great Barrier Reef through dredging, shipping, and its dire contribution to climate change, State and Federal Liberal party governments have steadfastly supported it.

The party’s strong ties to the coal industry among others has led claims of crony capitalism, especially after arguing that the project could not go ahead without hundreds of millions of taxpayer subsidies being thrown at Adani’s rail line, and billions at the Abbot Point port expansion. Adani now contradictorily sasy these subsidies are irrelevant to the project’s viability.

“The obvious question that neither the company nor the outgoing government seem capable of answering is why subsidies were being offered to begin with. Regulators need to investigate every aspect of today’s news reports to ensure all appropriate disclosures, sources of equity and debt funding, advice to potential investors plus notices to stock exchanges and corporate regulators here and overseas were carried out in accordance with the laws that govern such matters.” IEEFA director of energy finance studies, Australia, Tim Buckley.

Given its claim the project will create 10,000 jobs has also been shown to be almost triple the likely reality, and that its argument that coal will pull people out of poverty is as trumped up as the coal industry’s social media support, an inquiry into the company’s conduct and political relationships looks to be sorely needed.

Top image credit: Greenpeace Australia Pacific

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