BILLIONAIRE Gautam Adani’s business empire faced a regulatory investigation years before the American short-seller Hindenburg Research claimed market manipulation by the Indian conglomerate, according to a media report.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) picked up an alert from the customs authority about an alleged misuse of offshore funds by Adani Group companies in 2014 but the initial investigation hit a dead end, Reuters reported citing sources.
The probe was paused in 2017, it said.
A Hindenburg report published in January this year accused the Ahmedabad-based group of pulling “the largest con in corporate history” and a “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades”.
Adani denied the allegations but the accusations led to a meltdown in the stocks of the group companies, resulting in $104 billion (about £85 bn) wiped out of their total market value.
Later, the market regulator resumed its probe into the group’s dealings with overseas entities.
On 25 August, SEBI told the Supreme Court that it had completed its investigation into all except two allegations against the group but awaited information from five tax havens on the actual owners behind the foreign entities that have invested in the conglomerate.
The next hearing is expected on Friday (13).
SEBI will tell the top court why it paused and then restarted investigations into the group, the Reuters report said.
The market regulator did not react to media reports.
A public interest litigation filed in the court in September claimed that SEBI had concealed the 2014 alert, which alleged stock price manipulation through offshore entities.