Petition Claims Conflict Of Interest In SC's Adani-Hindenburg Probe Panel

Petition claims that OP Bhatt, KV Kamath and Somashekhar Sundaresan pose a conflict of interest in the probe
Petition Claims Conflict Of Interest In SC's Adani-Hindenburg Probe Panel

A fresh petition in the Supreme Court of India has alleged 'conflict of interest' in a panel investigating the accusations leveled against the Adani Group by the short-seller Hindenburg. The petition alleges that three members of the probe panel — OP Bhatt, KV Kamath and Somashekhar Sundaresan, are posing a potential conflict of interest.

According to the petition, which was submitted by one Anamika Jaiswal, OP Bhatt, the former chairman of SBI, is the chairman of a business called Greenko that collaborates "closely" with the Adani Group "to provide energy to Adani Group facilities in India," according to a report by ET.

The CBI also examined OP Bhatt in March 2018 in a case of alleged wrongdoing in disbursing loans to former liquor baron and fugitive Vijay Mallya, according to the petition. Mallya is accused of defrauding banks, including SBI, of $1.2 billion. The petitioner claims that Bhatt was the chairman of SBI when a majority of these loans were being advanced to Mallya’s companies, during the period between 2006 and 2011.

The petition claimed that another panelist from the probe, Somashekhar Sundaresan "represented the Adani Group before various forums, including the SEBI Board" as an attorney.

The plea added that KV Kamath, a former ICICI chairman, was mentioned in a fraud case's CBI FIR.

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

“The petitioner respectfully submits that in light of the above, there is an apprehension that the present expert committee would fail to inspire confidence among the people of the country. It is therefore respectfully prayed, a fresh expert committee may be constituted by this Hon’ble Court with experts from the field of finance, law and stock market with impeccable integrity, and who have no conflict of interest in the outcome of the instant matter," the petition said.

Earlier in January 2023, US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research published a report alleging gross irregularities in Adani's businesses. However, the Adani Group has repeatedly and categorically denied the contents of the report.

The SC eventually ordered a probe into the matter after a stock market collapse of the Adani Group companies.

The panel was established to determine if there was a regulatory failure in handling an alleged violation of securities market legislation in respect to the Adani Group or other businesses. It was requested to make recommendations on ways to improve investor education and the legal framework for investor protection.

The six-member committee, headed by retired Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, comprises OP Bhatt, retired Justice JP Devadhar, KV Kamath, Nandan Nilekani and Somashekhar Sundaresan. 

The same petitioner had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court last week, accusing the market regulator SEBI of conflict of interest in its probe against the Adani Group.

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