The Congress hit out at the Securities Exchange Board of India on Tuesday, citing media reports and asking whether the regulator, which is investigating allegations against the Adani group, is planning to let off the conglomerate with “token fines for technical violations”.
In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said that if the media reports were true, then “India’s transition to a kleptocracy will be complete”. Mr. Ramesh also alleged that the message was clear, that India’s institutions would be rendered toothless while its investigative agencies would be used only to protect Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “close friends”.
‘Transition to a kleptocracy’
“There has been a spate of news reports (perthaps more accurately termed “leaks”) on the Supreme Court-mandated SEBI investigation of the Adani Mega Scam. If these reports are correct and SEBI is planning to let off Adani with token fines for technical violations, then India’s transition to a ‘kleptocracy’ will be complete,” he said.
The Congress leader recalled how, at the G-20 meeting held in Brisbane in November 2014, Mr. Modi had called for cooperation between nations to eliminate safe havens for economic offenders, track down and unconditionally extradite money launderers, and “break down the web of complex international regulations and excessive banking secrecy that hide the corrupt and their deeds”.
“Yet he [Modi] has done all he can to protect his corrupt friends and their misdeeds. The PM’s pet agencies are investigating entities that shorted Adani shares in January 2023 rather than the far more serious charges of money laundering and round-tripping that have been made against the Adani Group,” the Congress leader alleged.
No ED, CBI action
SEBI has not asked the Enforcement Directorate or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take further action against Adani at any point, even though “the securities market regulator suspects wrongdoing”, Mr. Ramesh said, quoting the Supreme Court’s Expert Committee on the Adani matter.
“If any further evidence was needed to show that India’s once-proud institutions now face capture, it is evident now,” he alleged.
“Rather than compromised institutions, only a joint parliamentary committee probe can investigate the full extent of the Adani Mega Scam, and look for answers to questions such as where the ₹20,000 crore of opaque foreign funds have flowed into Adani companies, what is the true financial relationship between Gautam and Vinod Adani, and how PM Modi has personally facilitated Adani’s businesses in India and abroad by changing laws, rules and regulations to enrich his close friends,” Mr. Ramesh said.