In 2019, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief of Myanmar's military and the leader of last week's coup, visited the Adani Ports and SEZ company at its massive port in Mundra, India.
According to the senior general's website:
'The Senior General and party visited Adani Ports and Logistics at Mundra Port. Officials of Adani Port & SEZ Limited (APSEZ) gave a presentation on operating the functions at the port to accept docking of container ships for export and import processes. The Senior General asked about safety process in preventing natural disasters and other points he wanted know. The Senior General and party viewed round undertakings of safety process for disasters at factories and tasks being undertaken along the deep seaport. Officials conducted them round the port. Then, commemorative gifts were exchanged at the meeting hall.
'Adani Ports and Logistics, a deep seaport at the Gulf of Kutch in India, is one of the ports which can admit docking of large vessels.It is a main gatepost of transporting commodities to inner part of India.The port stores and distributes crude oil, automobiles, and other export and import items. The port which has jetties to admit docking of many tons of cargo ships is the world’s largest coal import port to supply coal to Adani coal-fired power plant and TATA coal-fired power plant.'
Adani Ports and SEZ is leasing land from a company owned by the Myanmar military for its port development in Yangon, Myanmar. This has led to several instances of criticism of the Adani Group by human-rights advocates. There have been renewed calls for Australia to impose sanctions on the military leader since last week's coup.
Calls for international sanctions against the head of Myanmar's military have intensified after Monday's coup. The main target is Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who visited Adani's massive Mundra port in July 2019, exchanging gifts with officials of the Adani Ports company.
On Monday 1 February 2021, in the wake of the military coup, human-rights groups intensified calls for international sanctions against Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's armed forces.
The rights group ‘Justice for Myanmar’ said in a media release that the coup had been ‘been orchestrated by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his enablers in the military leadership’. It said that the general is the ‘main beneficiary’ of the coup and called on ‘the international community to apply immediate and comprehensive targeted sanctions against the Myanmar military, their leaders and their business accomplices’.
The company Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (‘Adani Ports’) is developing a container port in Myanmar’s biggest city on land leased from a company owned by the Myanmar military.
In January 2019, it was reported that the Adani Yangon International Terminal Co Ltd (a subsidiary of Adani Ports) had received approval from Myanmar authorities to establish a container port in Yangon. The company was to develop, operate and maintain the Ahlone International Port Terminal on the Yangon River about six km from the centre of the city. (See interactive map for location) The deal was said to be worth $US290 million. About 20 hectares of land were to be leased from the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), a large company owned by the Myanmar military.
According to the UN Mission that investigated the 2017 human-rights abuses in Myanmar, the MEC is fully owned and controlled by the Myanmar Ministry of Defence and is a direct source of revenue for the military. The Mission cited evidence that the MEC and other military-controlled entities generate revenue that dwarfs that of any civilian-owned company in Myanmar. The MEC therefore helps enable the operations of a military machine accused of genocidal crimes.
The MEC also has a wholly-owned private subsidiary, Myanmar Economic Corporation Ltd (MEC Ltd), whose board is reported to include Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with the implication that it is influenced by senior leaders such as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.Read more
For many observers of Indian politics, the relationship between Gautam Adani and PM Narendra Modi has become the epitome of crony capitalism. The billionaire’s perpetually expanding empire has been nourished by government policies on energy, deregulation, infrastructure, solar energy, agriculture and mining. Perhaps the most egregious example of a government deal tailormade to suit the Adani Group is the leasing of six major airports to Adani Enterprises.
In February 2019, India’s airport authority announced that the corporate group led by Gautam Adani had made the winning bids to operate and develop the airports in six major Indian cities, four of them state capitals. Data released in the wake of the decision showed that these six airports were among the highest revenue earners and generators of profit among all the airports operated by India’s airport authority. News reports said that Adani had outbid eight other large corporations.
The six airports service the cities of Ahmedabad (capital of Gautam Adani's home state of Gujarat), Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangalore and Guwahati.
The deal raised eyebrows because the Adani Group had had no previous experience at running airports. Some commentators said that the Modi government had violated its own procedures in reaching this outcome. Recommendations by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Finance on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the bidding process were said to have been ignored. The state government of Kerala, whose main airport had been allocated to Adani against its stated wishes, challenged the decision in the courts. Its finance minister said the deal was an act of ‘blatant cronyism’.
According to its website, Adani Enterprises mounted the successful bids for 50-year concessions and ‘100% ownership’ for the airports. It would take on the ‘design, development, financing, construction, upgradation and expansion’ of the airports, but had also acquired other valuable assets, such as ‘large and attractive land for monetization’. The website spruiks the commercial virtues of the deal for Adani and the group’s shareholders. The deal was the forerunner of another foray into the airports business by the Adani Group, which in 2020 acquired airports in the Mumbai area (to be covered in a later story).Read more
An Australian Senator has tabled the AdaniWatch dossier on the atrocious international record of the Adani Group on environmental and social issues.
The Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Nick McKim, last week drew on parts of the dossier in a speech that slammed the Adani Group's proposed Carmichael coal mine.
Senator McKim also described the assaults on indigenous farmers opposing the takeover of their lands for Adani's Godda power station in India. This is the power station (under construction) for which Adani's Carmichael coal is destined. The land was seized from villagers using coercion and underhand tactics.
Also under fire was the Adani Group's deal with the Myanmar Economic Corporation, 'bagman' for the brutal Myanmar military, for a huge port development in Yangon. He quoted Australian human-rights lawyer, Chris Sidoti, who investigated atrocities against Myanmar's Rohingya people for the United Nations and said that Adani would be enriching the culpable generals through its Yangon port development.
Senator McKim chastised the Adani Group's joint venture with palm-oil giant Wilmar, which has profited from the large-scale destruction of rainforests in south-east Asia, including the habitat of elephants and orangutans. The palm-oil operations of Adani Wilmar have also been implicated in human-rights abuses.
Senator McKim described Adani's Carmichael mine, under development in Queensland, as a 'carbon bomb' that would have devastating consequences for the Earth's climate, as well as direct and indirect impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Vision of his speech can be found here.
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has fined Adani for breaching environmental conditions that apply to the approval of its Carmichael coal mine. The infringement notices and fines totalling $25,920 were issued on 30 October 2020.
The Department found that Adani Mining Pty Ltd (now Bravus Mining and Resources) had failed to carry out surveys of some of the bushland it cleared for its operations. It is therefore clear that the Adani Mining company has potentially harmed threatened species.
The fine of $25,920 to a company that is part of the multi-billion-dollar Adani Group is a pathetic gesture. A pat on the knuckles with a bit of limp lettuce.
Even the government's media release treated the crime in a derisory manner. The media release was headed 'QLD mining company fined for breaching environmental approval conditions'. The first paragraph of the release referred to 'a mining company'.
The Australian Government appears to be playing the company's game of hiding the discredited name 'Adani' whenever possible.
The media release says that the government 'takes non-compliance with approval conditions seriously'. But it is hard to see such a puny penalty or the government's limp rebuke acting as a deterrent to further wrongdoing.
Last week, AdaniWatch reported that participants in a multi-billion-dollar bidding process for the assets of an insolvent bank had complained that the rules were being bent in a way that benefited the Adani Group. The process is now subject to litigation. And a financial commentator has warned in the Times of India that the accommodation of Adani's late bid could result in a 'failed bidding process' that will dent Prime Minister Modi's 'assurances of fairness and transparency for foreign investors'. He also said that Adani's 'mounting debt' and 'highly leveraged' situation is 'worrying', and that the bursting of the Adani bubble 'is very much a possibility'. Surely this is a warning of great pertinence to the State Bank of India as it considers whether to loan the Adani Group a billion dollars for its Carmichael coal mine.
The Adani Group and three other major companies are participating in a formal bidding process for the assets of DHFL, a failed home-loan bank. It is a multi-billion-dollar bidding process. The three other companies have threatened to walk out of the resolution process if a late bid by the Adani Group is accepted, saying that the bid was submitted in violation of the rules laid down by the government.
The controversy has deepened, with Mint reporting that a promoter of DHFL is taking the issue to the National Company Law Tribunal in Mumbai. The report says that the bidding process is stalled until after the tribunal hears the matter on 3 December.
Meanwhile, a commentator in the Times of India has warned that failure of this troubled process will dent the credibility of India amongst international investors. He also issued a scathing assessment of the Adani Group's financial situation and tactics. In a column, the commentator, Dr Muneer, has written that:
'Definitely something is stinking here [in the way the multi-billion-dollar bidding process is being conducted] given that this is paving way for Adani to seal the deal by not breaking any rules. They had also submitted their bid six days post the deadline, which should have disqualified them but was not done for obvious reasons, according to rivals.
'This essentially will result in a failed bidding process with only one player, Adani. That does not augur well for the stakeholders and the public funds and it will affect future foreign capital inflow into stressed assets here...
'There is a merit in this accusation [by one of Adani's rival bidders] and it should thoroughly be investigated given that the creditors are representing public funds and not their personal wealth. Besides, the transparency that was offered to foreign investors must start with this.
'More worrying is what Adani Group is up to with mounting debts and diversification into disparate areas without any strategic alignment. Adani is highly leveraged, likely to get more and more leveraged as it madly extends its footprint across newer and newer sectors. Banks are obviously lending and bank loans are being used to repay other loans. When will the bubble burst? ...
'If the Adani bubble bursts, and it is very much a possibility, a lot of lenders can go down and, with them, a large number of small investors, depositors and public funds that could be used for development and poverty alleviation programs.'
Such warnings should be considered by the State Bank of India in assessing the proposed loan to the Adani Group's Carmichael coal mine in Australia.
Rival investors are up in arms as the Adani group makes a last-minute attempt to acquire a bankrupt home-loan company in India. One such investor, the Piramal group, has written a letter to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that Adani’s attempt violates the rules of the bidding process.
A large Indian industrial group has written to Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, apprehending that the Adani conglomerate is seeking to bypass norms and procedures in order to acquire a bankrupt housing loan company.
For over a year now, the assets of DHFL (formerly known as Dewan Housing Finance Limited), a US$13-billion 'shadow-bank' that used to specialise in providing home loans, have been undergoing insolvency-resolution proceedings under a legal process mandated by Indian bankruptcy law.
'Shadow-banks,' or non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in India’s official parlance, are corporate entities that can offer loans and a variety of other financial services other than provide full-fledged regular banking services that a 'scheduled commercial bank' can. NBFCs are considered by many to be a key pillar of India’s financial system, accounting for around a fifth of India’s total credit market.
Not just DHFL, but many NBFCs, have going through a crisis over the recent past and especially over the past two years with several major bankruptcies that have led to macro-economic impacts across the Indian economy.
The first such bankruptcy to reach the insolvency resolution process is that of DHFL that went bankrupt in 2019 following sensational revelations in the media that its ownership had siphoned money out of the company, forcing the government to come up with a new set of rules regulating how insolvency resolutions of such bankrupt NBFCs was to take place. The resolution process for DHFL under these rules is going to set a precedent for several such NBFC resolutions that will follow in the coming years. It is these rules governing the precedent-setting DHFL resolution that Adani is accused of breaking.
Three other companies – India’s Piramal group, the US-based Oaktree Capital and Hong Kong’s SC Lowy – that are seeking to acquire different parts of DHFL’s portfolio have threatened to walk out of the resolution process if Adani’s bid is accepted, saying that the bid was submitted in violation of the rules laid down by the government. However, the letter to PM Modi sent by a representative of the Piramal group has gone one step further.
The letter from the Piramal group to PM Modi alleges that the entire bankruptcy-resolution process, involving litigation before a judicial tribunal and deliberations among DHFL’s financial creditors, was being delayed, disrupted and undermined by the failure to outright reject Adani’s late and non-compliant bid. It warned that continued delay in the process would be detrimental to all stakeholders, particularly Indian banks and lending institutions that have a large exposure to DHFL. It also warned that restarting the process to accommodate Adani’s bid would undermine efforts by other applicants and could result in judicial proceedings that would delay and frustrate the process even further.
The letter, parts of which were shown to this correspondent by a source on condition of anonymity, calls for Adani’s bid to be rejected saying that not doing so risks 'undermining the integrity' of the entire insolvency-resolution process for DHFL that may, in turn, have wide ramifications for future resolutions of other bankrupt NBFCs that are to follow.Read more
This dossier on the Adani Group's environmental and social record outside Australia makes for sobering reading.
In Australia, Adani is best known as the company behind the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. However, the Adani Group is a conglomeration of companies engaged in a vast array of businesses, including coal-fired power stations, ports, palm oil, airports, defence industries, solar power, real estate and gas. The group’s founder and chairman, Gautam Adani, has been described as India’s second-richest man and is a close associate of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Adani Group is active in several countries but particularly in India, where accusations of corruption and environmental destruction have dogged its rise to power. In central India, Adani intends to strip mine ancestral lands belonging to the indigenous Gond people. Large tracts of biodiverse forest, including elephant habitat, are in the firing line. Around the coastline of India, Adani’s plans to massively expand its ports are generating outcry from fishing villages and conservationists. In the country’s east, Adani is building a thermal power station designed to burn coal from Queensland and sell expensive power to neighbouring Bangladesh. Investigations, court actions and allegations of impropriety have accompanied Adani’s progress in many of these business schemes.
Through its joint venture with Wilmar, Adani is a major refiner and trader in palm oil, an industry responsible for devastating huge areas of rainforest in South-East Asia. The Adani Group is also developing a major port in Myanmar, leasing land from a corporation owned by that country’s infamously brutal military.
The Adani Group has benefited from human-rights violations and environmental degradation associated with many of the Group’s commercial operations. Some of the abuses have been carried out by governments acting for the benefit of the Adani Group. AdaniWatch has published articles about these issues since February 2020. Such stories have also appeared in many other media outlets. Many of the incidents described in these articles have led to court challenges against the Adani Group’s projects.
This dossier on the Adani Group's appalling environmental and social record was compiled from AdaniWatch stories published between February and October 2020.
Adani Mining is changing its name to ‘Bravus’. The re-branding has been announced on YouTube by Adani and widely reported. It comes in the wake of other attempts at re-branding, with Adani expunging its own name from its north Queensland rail and port operations. AdaniWatch has previously described Adani as ‘the company that dare not speak its name’.
The chief executive officer of Adani Mining, David Boshoff, said that Bravus was Latin for brave and courageous, ‘a description that suited the company’.
However, the company was so ‘brave’ about changing its toxic brand that it made the announcement when everyone was looking the other way, fully engrossed in the USA presidential election.
The Australian Financial Review said that other definitions of Bravus on the internet described it as meaning ‘cut-throat or villain – not great for a company that has been targeted by environmentalists for its behaviour both in Australia and India'.
The Australian (paywalled) said ‘the most controversial name in Australian mining is no more after budding coal producer Adani rebranded to call itself Latin for brave. By dumping the family name of its Indian owner, Bravus Mining & Resources is trying to reset after a decade of pitched environmental and political battles over the Carmichael mine in central west Queensland.’
The Guardian interviewed an expert in Latin who said that Adani had gotten lost in translation. Bravus apparently means 'crooked', 'cut-throat' or 'mercenary'. A Freudian slip?
Leading environmentalist, Bob Brown, said that the name change won’t change Adani’s ‘infamy’.
‘The Adani corporation’s name change in Australia from ‘Adani’ to ‘Bravus’ won’t improve its global reputation for being an environmental monster in this age of climate emergency and extinction crisis,’ Bob Brown said.
‘A new anti-Adani slogan is ‘SAVE US FROM BRAVUS,’ he said.
‘This must be humiliating for Gautam Adani, the multi-billionaire owner of the mine works in Central Queensland. He is admitting that his name is poison for the public and potential investors alike.’
‘Yet he doesn’t get it. It is a game change, not a name change, that is required – and that means stopping his mine and getting out of dirty, polluting coal altogether. That would take an integrity which Adani by any name, from Goa to the Galilee Basin, lacks. The public will think even less of Adani for this failed bit of window dressing en route to his Queensland mine becoming a stranded asset,’ Brown said.
Frontline Action of Coal staged a hilarious protest, with participants polishing a giant turd, reported by News Ltd (paywalled).
The Brisbane Times interviewed Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator, Peter McCallum, who said people would not be fooled by Adani’s attempt to 'hide behind a new name'.
Adani boasts that work on its Carmichael coal mine in Queensland is ‘well underway’, but the company’s behaviour betrays an attitude of deep insecurity.
In August 2020, Adani Australia launched legal proceedings against climate campaigner Ben Pennings, alleging ‘a sustained campaign of harassment’ against the company’s business and contractors. Mr Pennings was the public face of Galilee Blockade, a community group dedicated to keeping the fossil fuels of Queensland’s vast Galilee Basin in the ground in order to protect the Earth’s climate.
In preparing for the court action, Adani secretly sought to raid the Brisbane home of Mr Pennings and his young family in order to obtain ‘confidential information’ it believed Mr Pennings had acquired. The court dismissed Adani’s move, citing the ‘humiliation and family distress’ such a raid might cause.
On 28 October 2020, it was revealed that Adani had organised surveillance of the home and family of Mr Pennings. A private investigator engaged by Adani covertly took photographs of Mr Pennings walking his nine-year-old daughter to school. Adani confirmed that surveillance had taken place, saying in a statement on Twitter that ‘any surveillance activity related to the relatives of Mr Pennings was an effort to determine the time of day to carry out a search order that would see the least disruption to residents, if it was granted by the courts’.
This revelation aroused widespread disgust and condemnation.Read more