SLG Syndication

SLG Syndication is committed to aggregating excerpts from news published by international news agencies and key insights on contemporary issues published by think tanks. Our aim is to facilitate the expansion of its reach while giving due credit to the original source.

Sri Lanka’s Independence Day: Revisiting the Journey to Find Way Forward

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Whilst enveloped in deep socio-economic crises caused by the successive inept and divisive political leadership in power, since the island country gained its independence from the British colonial rule, in  February 1948, the preparations are afoot to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the existence of the country, as a free nation.  

At the time Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was granted independence with the dominion status, it was a prosperous country with a comparatively strong economy. The country was regarded as one destined to be a model amongst the nations gaining their freedom from the colonial masters, after the second world  war. The trend was to decolonize the nations from the yoke of centuries of colonial rule of the European powers, some benign and some not so benign.  

The grant of independence to Sri Lanka was hurried and ill-thought through. The governance of the independent Ceylon as envisaged was nothing but a change from the colonial rule to the neo-colonial rule  of the Sinhala nation with a hardened Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. 

The Soulbury constitution which was the framework for the governance of Ceylon was most inappropriate as it failed to recognize the existence of the two distinct nations – the Sinhala nation and Tamil nation. It created a situation where the nations were reduced to the majority and minority communities. The Tamil nation was left at the mercy of the Sinhala nation who were handed over the gift of a perpetual supremacy  simply on the basis of numbers. Even basic safeguards to protect the interest of the Tamil nation were not written into the constitution except for a confused clause preventing “the majority community” enjoying  privileges which were not extended to the “minority communities”. 

The Soulbury constitution which was largely a replica of the unwritten Westminster styled constitution totally distorted the socio-political realities of Ceylon. Soon after the independence the Sinhala Buddhist government of the day took steps to ensure that a well pronounced section of the Tamil nation, who were  the backbone of the then economy of Ceylon lost their citizenship. This was aimed to reduce the representation of the Tamil nation in the governance of the newly independent nation.  

This was the first step in their long journey to deprive the Tamil nation of their rightful place in the economy education, employment and the political life of the country. The introduction of the constitutions in 1972 and 1978 further marginalized the Tamil nation from the body politic of the Sinhala led unitary state. These took away even the basic safeguards provided by the Soulbury constitution. The current socio political crises of the nation is a result of these deeply sectarian approach of the Sinhala Buddhist led governments.  

The Tamil nation reacted to this initially by entering into political dialogue. On realizing that the democratic concepts hardly had an impact on the thought process of the Sinhala nation, by then, well intoxicated with the political power gained over the decades, took to arms as the last resort to prevent the decimation of  the Tamil nation. The sixth amendment to the 1978 constitution took away even the breathing space for the Tamil nation to express its political will. The main justification for the armed struggle is the sixth amendment. If the parliament ceases to be forum where else the long oppressed Tamil nation can voice  its political expression? 

The international community is well aware of the brutal reaction of the Sinhala nation to the legitimate expression of the political will of the people of the Tamil nation for us to repeat those here. Suffice is it to  say that every armed struggle is not an act of terrorism. 

The post war oppression continues unabated. The state aided colonization continues to distort the  demography of the traditional Tamil homeland and the heavy presence of the armed forces takes away  even the semblance of the life without fear. 

The planned lobsided economic development over the decades has left the peoples of the Tamil nation  the “poor cousins” of the Sinhala nation. 

The war reparation, restoration of the civil society, and the accountability from the war crimes are foreign concepts to the Sri Lankan government. 

Even the attempt to implement the watered-down Indo Sri Lanka accord in the form of the “13th Amendment” is now being vociferously objected to by the Buddhist clergy. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. 

In nutshell, the democracy is practiced in Sri Lanka only in the breach and any hope of a internally evolved solution to the political crises in the island of Sri Lanka is fast disappearing, if not its has already  disappeared. 

The international community must not allow itself to be misled by the Sinhala nation any longer. The history of the island of Sri Lanka is too dire to be ignored by the civilized nations of the world.  

The international community must realise that continuing to support Sri Lanka in its current form will not bring prosperity to the country. For the Sinhala nation the current crisis is socio economic but for the Tamil  nation, it is an existential crisis. 

Unwarranted Defence Expenditure – A Main cause to Sri Lanka’s Current Crisis  

Among the several causes of Sri Lanka’s failure to secure its economic stability, the defence expenditure remains a major factor.  

The cycles of violence culminated in anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983 and then the genocidal war of three decades, the effect of which will not be easily erased from Tamil peoples’ memory for several generation to come.  

Continued and the concerted military occupation of traditional Tamil homeland in the North & East make the return to normalcy impossible.  

While the international community gallops to save Sri Lanka from its current crisis, it must take note of the following and lay stern conditions. 

The historical data produced by reputable organizations prove that Sri Lanka’s defence spending has been in the increase. Macro Trends report provides that, Sri Lanka’s Budget Expenditure on Defence since 1960 have been as follows:

Period Total US$ Billion Average/ year US$ Billion
1960 to 1982 0.52 0.024
1983 to 2009 14.92 0.553
2010 to 2019 (Post war) 17.28 1.728
Total 32.72

The World bank reports provide that Sri Lanka has spent USD$ 34.3 billion on its defence up to 2020. This implies that Sri Lanka had spent USD$ 1.58 billion on defence in 2020 alone. The defence budget covering the post war period (US$ 17.28 Billion) is higher than that of civil war period (US$14.92 Billion). 

It is also noteworthy to consider India’s former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon’s statement that Sri Lanka’s internal war which ended in May 2009 had cost the country around US$ 200 billion. This US$ 200 billion is enormous and appeared to have gone unaccounted from the Sri Lanka’s records.  

From the foregoing details, it is unequivocally evident that Sri Lanka has been spending significant amount of its budget in increasing the military presence in the island even after the end of the war in 2009.

The military size increase by 94,000; from 223,000 to 317,000; after the war ended in 2009 signifies the increased deployment of military personnel in Tamil homeland of North and East of the island. We consider that the economic crisis of USD$ 50.7 billion foreign debts could have been mitigated to a large extent if only Sri Lanka had not wasted its resources on defence expenditure.

It should also be noted that Sri Lanka has more military personnel than the United Kingdom. Does Sri Lanka need that numbers of military personnel, while it has no external or internal threats when compared to the UK, which obviously has more security concerns.

In the interim, we would urge the international community to take preliminary actions to compel Sri Lanka to end the heavy militarization of North and East of the island and also to demobilize the military as a step towards mitigating the surging national expenditure.

Will the international community impose strict conditions before it takes ad-hoc measures to save Sri Lanka?

Resettlement of Tamil People

If the country were to prosper, the Tamil people ought to be allowed to live in their own land with their legitimate political rights acknowledged.

The state aided colonization, depriving equitable socio economic development, the war and the embargos have forced Tamil people to flee to other destinations. An estimate of over 200,000 such Tamil people, who should be living in their own homes in the North and East, are internally displaced.

Additionally, the civil war has caused over a million of Tamil people to seek shelter in foreign countries and about 100,000 who fled to India, are still living as stateless people.

It is imperative that all these people have the freedom of returning to their own homes to live in peace and dignity.

The Way Forward

Having mentioned the foregoing facts and figures, the British Tamils Forum urges the following as the way forward to not only make Sri Lanka a conflict free region and a prosperous country.

• Demilitarise the North East and demobilise the security forces in the island.

• As the united voice of the elected Tamil representatives in the North East calling for a political solution based on the federal principles and the right to self-determination, we request an international arbitration process led by India, USA and a core group of countries to find a long term political settlement.

• The “culture of impunity” must cease, and the perpetrators of atrocity crimes must be brought to justice under the international criminal prosecution mechanism.

• Apply all available leverages including further sanctions, travel ban, asset freeze, etc. on civilian and military perpetrators.

Statement issued by the Global Tamil Forum

China reaffirms the Support for Sri Lanka

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China is the first official bilateral creditor to have taken the initiative to announce debt extension to Sri Lanka. This speaks to China’s sincerity and action to support Sri Lanka’s effort to achieve debt sustainability, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning yesterday told the reporters at Regular Press Conference.

The complete statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry is as follows;

Shenzhen TV: It is learned that the Export-Import Bank of China has provided Sri Lanka a letter as required, offering an extension on the debt service due in the next two years and saying it would like to have friendly consultation with Sri Lanka regarding medium and long-term debt treatment. Can you confirm this?

Mao Ning: On January 19, the Export-Import Bank of China, as the official bilateral creditor, provided a financing support document to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies of Sri Lanka, saying the Bank is going to provide an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023, which means Sri Lanka will not have to repay the principal and interest due of the Bank’s loans during the above-mentioned period, so as to help relieve Sri Lanka’s short-term debt repayment pressure; meanwhile, the Bank would like to have friendly consultation with Sri Lanka regarding medium- and long-term debt treatment in this window period; and the Bank will make best efforts to contribute to the debt sustainability of Sri Lanka. The Bank also noted that it will support Sri Lanka in its loan application to the IMF; in the meantime, the Bank will continuously call on commercial creditors (including the International Sovereign Bondholders) to provide debt treatment in an equally comparable manner, and encourage multilateral creditors to do their utmost to make corresponding contributions.

As we have said several times, as a friendly neighbor and true friend, China has been providing assistance for Sri Lanka’s economic and social development to the best of our capabilities. The financing support document is aimed at combining an “immediate contingency measure” and “medium- and long-term debt treatment” to rapidly, effectively and truly resolve Sri Lanka’s debt issue. As far as I have learned, China is the first official bilateral creditor to have taken the initiative to announce debt extension to Sri Lanka. This speaks to China’s sincerity and action to support Sri Lanka’s effort to achieve debt sustainability.

China calls on all other creditors of Sri Lanka, especially multilateral creditors, to take synchronized, similar steps and give effective, strong support to Sri Lanka to help the country emerge from its default status at an early date and eventually work out an arrangement for Sri Lanka to achieve medium- and long-term debt sustainability. China also calls on the IMF to take into full consideration the urgency of the situation in Sri Lanka and provide loan support as soon as possible to relieve the country’s liquidity strain.

Going forward, China will continue to support relevant financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment. We will work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.

Taliban in Kabul: Exploiting International Generosity

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The Taliban administration in Kabul known variously as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [self-declared] or Defacto authorities remained defiant over international and regional stakeholders’ request for observing universal human rights particularly towards women and the media. The Taliban claimed that the world must honor its culture and traditions which are based on interpretation of the Sharia by the top religious leadership led by Mullah Hibatullah, known as the Supreme Authority.

Numerous delegations from the United Nations, Organization for Islamic Cooperation, international and regional stakeholders visited Afghanistan in the month of January seeking the Taliban to open education for women and permit them to work in the NGO sector. A number of stakeholders visited Afghanistan during the month to appeal to the Taliban to mainstream with international human rights amongst other issues. The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous visited Kabul and met with the Taliban authorities to discuss Afghan women’s rights and other issues.

Minister Muutaqi expressed his gratitude and hoped that the UN delegation would portray Afghanistan’s true image to the international community. “Women are engaged in educational and health sectors in significant numbers whereas those who used to work in government offices are paid salaries at home. The number of female inmates has reduced considerably, and broad facilities have been provided in the business sector,” Muttaqi said. Muttaqi also reiterated that not recognizing the Afghan government, travel bans on the Islamic Emirate authorities and restrictions on the banking system have led to numerous problems. While the senior Taliban officials met the delegation and appeared ready to engage in a discussion on women’s rights, but there were no serious breakthroughs, or even major progress, on getting the country’s rulers to back down on their policies on women’s rights.

The Organizations of the Islamic Cooperation held an extraordinary meeting on Afghanistan in Jeddah aimed at “considering the situation in Afghanistan following the decisions taken by the de facto Afghan authorities to close down schools and universities to girls and women for an unspecified period and suspend women from working in all national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in violation of the purposes of Islamic law and the methodology of the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad.” Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) continued the distribution of aid to at least 47,400 vulnerable families in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has blatantly ignored the appeals by organisations and high officials as Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General for reversing the ban on education for women.

There has been only limited breakthrough in this direction as the Taliban continued to defy these requests. In the interim the Group has tightened conservative religious edicts and implementation such as public flogging for crime.

On January 28, Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education issued a new decree banning female students from taking university entrance exams (Kankor) this year in all public and private universities in Afghanistan. The international benevolence towards the hardline extremist Taliban regime is based on the empathy for the Afghan people who have suffered for the past many decades and in case ignored now may fall into the trap of extreme penury, human suffering and loss of lives of the most vulnerable essentially the children.

The aid and assistance to the Taliban includes packages of hard cash flowing in the country sustaining the economy and providing for the peoples livelihood to some extent despite a very harsh winter. There are apparently no signs of weakening of the Taliban resolve to maintain its ideological extreme beliefs even though some amongst them have from time to time called for a change.

These latter voices are few and far between and are coming mainly from officials who are in Kabul the capital whereas the ideological edicts have been issued from Kandahar the clerical headquarters of the de facto authorities. Under the circumstances hoping for a change of approach in Afghanistan soon is unlikely.

Source: Security Risks Research

India: Fraud Cannot be Obfuscated by Nationalism – Hindenburg to Adani

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1 min read

Hitting back at the Adani Group’s assertion that the Hindenburg report on the group is an “attack on India”, the US-based research firm has said that “India’s future is being held back by the Adani Group, which has draped itself in the Indian flag while systematically looting the nation.”

The Adani Group is trying to lead the focus away from substantive issues and “instead stoked a nationalist narrative, claiming our report amounted to a calculated attack on India,” the firm said.

“We believe that fraud is a fraud, even when it’s perpetrated by one of the wealthiest individuals in the world,” the US firm said in a scathing attack on the Adani Group. “To be clear, we believe India is a vibrant democracy and an emerging superpower with an exciting future,” it added.

On January 24, Hindenburg Research came out with a 106-page report, which accused the Adani group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud”.

“In terms of substance, Adani’s response only included about 30 pages focused on issues related to our report,” Hindenburg said on Adani’s response.

The US firm said the remainder of the response consisted of 330 pages of court records, along with 53 pages of high-level financials, general information, and details on irrelevant corporate initiatives, such as how it encourages female entrepreneurship and the production of safe vegetables.

“Our report asked 88 specific questions of the Adani Group. In its response, Adani failed to specifically answer 62 of them. Instead, it mainly grouped questions together in categories and provided generalised deflections,” the research house said.

“In other instances, Adani simply pointed to its own filings and declared the questions or relevant matters settled, again failing to substantively address the issues raised,” Hindenburg said, adding that the Adani response “opened with the sensationalistic claim that we are the Madoffs of Manhattan”.

“Adani also claimed we have committed a ‘flagrant breach of applicable securities and foreign exchange laws’. Despite Adani’s failure to identify any such laws, this is another serious accusation that we categorically deny,” it said.

“In short, the Adani Group has attempted to conflate its meteoric rise and the wealth of its Chairman, Gautam Adani, with the success of India itself,” the US firm said. “Of the few questions it did answer, its responses largely confirmed our findings, as we detail.”

“But before we get into those, we note that the core allegations of our report – focused on numerous suspect transactions with offshore entities – were left completely unaddressed,” it said.

News agencies

India: Adani Unveils ‘Everything’ to Rebut Hindenburg allegations

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Richest Indian Gautam Adani’s group on Sunday likened the damning allegations made by short seller Hindenburg Research to a “calculated attack” on India, its institutions and growth story, saying the allegations are “nothing but a lie”.

In a 413-page response, Adani Group said the report was driven by “an ulterior motive” to “create a false market” to allow the US firm to make financial gains.

“This is not merely an unwarranted attack on any specific company but a calculated attack on India, the independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and the growth story and ambition of India,” it said.

Stating that the allegations in Hindenburg Research’s January 24 report are “nothing but a lie”, it said the document is “a malicious combination of selective misinformation and concealed facts relating to baseless and discredited allegations to drive an ulterior motive”.

“This is rife with conflict of interest and intended only to create a false market in securities to enable Hindenburg, an admitted short seller, to book massive financial gain through wrongful means at the cost of countless investors,” it said.

It went on to question the credibility and ethics of Hindenburg, and said the mala fide intention underlying the report were apparent given its timing when Adani Enterprises Limited is undertaking one of the largest ever further public offering of equity shares in India.

“Hindenburg has not published this report for any altruistic reasons but purely out of selfish motives and in flagrant breach of applicable securities and foreign exchange laws,” it said. “The report is neither ‘independent’ nor ‘objective’ nor ‘well researched’.”

Activist short seller Hindenburg Research, the firm which caught global attention with takedowns of electric-vehicle makers Nikola and Lordstown Motors, alleged in a report on Wednesday that its two-year investigation found the Adani Group “engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades”.

The report by the tiny New York firm that specialises in short selling has led to Adani group losing more than USD 50 billion in market value in just two trading sessions and Adani himself losing in excess of USD 20 billion, or about one-fifth of his total fortune.

Hindenburg called out the conglomerate’s “substantial debt”, which includes pledging shares for loans; that Adani’s brother Vinod “manages a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities” that move billions into group companies without required disclosure; and that its auditor “hardly seems capable of complex audit work”.

Of the 88 questions raised by Hindenburg, 65 of them relate to matters that have been duly disclosed by Adani portfolio companies, Adani Group said. “Of the balance 23 questions, 18 relate to public shareholders and third parties (and not the Adani portfolio companies), while the balance 5 are baseless allegations based on imaginary fact patterns.”

It listed questions from the report and dismissed them as “false suggestions based on malicious misrepresentation of governance practices” or “manipulated narrative around unrelated third party entities” or “biased and unsubstantiated rhetoric”.

“We reaffirm that we are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. We are committed to the highest levels of governance to protect the interests of all our stakeholders,” it said. “The Adani Portfolio also has very strong internal controls and audit controls. All the listed companies of Adani Portfolio have a robust governance framework.”

The focus of the Adani portfolio and the Adani verticals is to contribute to nation building and take India to the world, it said.

“We will exercise our rights to pursue remedies to safeguard our stakeholders before all appropriate authorities and we reserve our rights to respond further to any of the allegations or contents of the Hindenburg report or to supplement this statement,” it added. 

Sources: PTI/ Agencies

US Authority Must Response to Pfizer Fraud

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An undercover video featuring an allegedly Pfizer executive bragging about how his company was exploring intentionally mutating COVID strains to profit from future mRNA vaccines has exploded across social media recently.

In the video, Jordon Trishton Walker, described as Pfizer Director of Research and Development, Strategic Operations and mRNA Scientific Planning, claims that his company is exploring a way to “mutate” COVID via “Directed Evolution” to preempt the development of future vaccines. The man told a Project Veritas journalist about Pfizer’s plan for COVID vaccines, while acknowledging that people would not like this information if it went public.

Pfizer on Friday issued a statement in response saying “in the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research,” but it added “In a limited number of cases when a full virus does not contain any known gain of function mutations, such virus may be engineered to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells.”

The video has sparked wide public concern with over 41.2 million views on Twitter alone.

Walker also bluntly said in the video that COVID is going to be a “cash cow” for Pfizer for a while going forward. Is Pfizer really manipulating COVID-19 for profits and does it in secret? How far has the research gone? What risks will it bring? The public naturally has many questions and demands answers. However, most of the US and Western mainstream media outlets and US politicians have collectively kept mum on the issue revealed in the video. This is quite abnormal in the American public opinion field known for its diversity.
The authenticity of this video has yet to be confirmed. In the face of public doubts, shouldn’t the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lawmakers and the media conduct further investigations and give the public an explanation?

Till now, the vast majority of US media outlets and politicians are ignoring it. This is in stark contrast to their keenness to hype the odds of new COVID mutations after China optimized its COVID policies. On the issue concerning a big US pharmaceutical company, it seems American media outlets are all much more “professional and rational.” They are quite prudent to make any conclusion.

If an undercover video of similar kind was exposed in China, there is no doubt that the Chinese public and officials would take it very seriously. Not only the company involved must give a detailed explanation, relevant authorities will quickly conduct an investigation to find the truth.

Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News, was a rarity among US media persons on this issue as he touched upon the topic. “In this country, drug companies spend more on lobbying the Congress than any other industry, a lot more than any other industry and they don’t do it by accident. They do it because it pays off,” Tucker said.

According to data from Pfizer, more than 4.3 billion Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines were shipped to 181 countries across the world by the late of 2022. Not long ago, Albert Bourla, Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, encountered a series of tough questions from a journalist about the efficacy of its COVID vaccine on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting.

“Western media doesn’t speak for truth, but is profits-oriented,” a Chinese expert who requires anonymity told a Beijing based daily Global Times. “Everyone knows that major American pharmaceutical companies and capital-controlled mainstream media are inextricably linked by interests. The silence of many media outlets in face of the video once again reflects the hypocrisy of US media.”

Source: Global Times

India’s Adani: Beginning of the End?

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Shares of India’s Adani Enterprises (ADEL.NS) sank 20% on Friday as a scathing report by a U.S. short seller triggered a rout in the conglomerate’s listed firms, casting doubts on how investors will respond to the company’s record $2.45 billion secondary offer.

Seven listed companies of the Adani conglomerate – controlled by one of the world’s richest men Gautam Adani – have lost a combined $48 billion in market capitalisation since Wednesday, with U.S. bonds of Adani firms also falling after Hindenburg Research flagged concerns in a Jan. 24 report about debt levels and the use of tax havens.

The rout took shares of Adani Enterprises, the group’s flagship company, well below the offer price of its secondary sale, which had initially been offered at a discount.

The Adani Group is concerned about the fall in share prices but continues to be in wait and see mode as the share sale continues until Jan. 31, said two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

India’s capital markets regulator is studying the Hindenburg report and may use it to aid its own ongoing probe into offshore fund holdings of Adani Group, two other sources said. Spokepersons for the regulator and Adani had no immediate comment.

Adani Group has dismissed the Hindenburg report as baseless and said it is considering whether to take legal action against the New York-based firm. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the regulator’s move.

With a net worth of $97.6 billion, billionaire Gautam Adani is now the world’s seventh richest man, according to Forbes, slipping from the third position he held before the Hindenburg report.

Adani met the county’s power minister R.K. Singh on Friday in New Delhi, according to a source familiar with the matter. The agenda of the meeting was not immediately known.

The billionaire hails from the western state of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s main opposition Congress party has often accused Adani and other billionaires of getting favourable policy treatment from Modi’s federal administration, allegations the billionaire denies.

The stunning market selloff has cast a shadow over Adani Enterprises’ secondary share sale that started on Friday. The anchor portion of the sale saw participation from investors including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority on Wednesday.

“The sell-off is seriously extreme … it has clearly dented the overall investor sentiment in the market,” said Saurabh Jain, assistant vice-president of research at SMC Global Securities.

Market worries extended to Indian banks with exposure to Adani Group’s debt. The Nifty Bank index (.NSEBANK) fell over 3%, while the broader 50-share Nifty index (.NSEI) was down 1.5%.

CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40% of the 2 trillion rupees ($24.53 billion) of Adani Group debt in the fiscal year to March 2022.

Source: The Reuters. Click here to read the complete report

Palestine Mission in Colombo Requests Public to Stand against Israel Brutality

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Palestine Embassy in Colombo appeals to all believers of Justice and Humanity to raise your voice in support of Palestinians who are presently under a bloody Israeli attack

The Embassy of the State of Palestine presents its compliments to the Members of  Parliament from all Political parties in Sri Lanka, Human and Civil rights organizations, the Print and Electronic Media and Friends of Palestine and has the honour to urgently inform, that Israeli apartheid forces in a criminal and bloody operation which is still ongoing from the early hours of this morning, have killed at least nine Palestinians including an elderly woman and wounded over a dozen others in an outright massacre in Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership has warned the world that this extreme and racist new Israeli government had a clear will and intention to commit such crimes against Palestinians. This government from day one highlighted its racist agenda and apartheid policies in all spheres to make the lives difficult for Palestinians, ranging from political, economic, invading holy places, confiscating lands, building settlements and increasing the arrests of innocent Palestinians.

This volatile escalation will fracture the stability not just in Palestine but also in the region and around the world.

Therefore, we appeal to all responsible governments, States and supporters of justice and humanity in the world to not just only condemn the Israeli apartheid regime and its ruthless crimes of violence against Palestinians but also to take the much-needed steps to protect the lives of Palestinians and end the apartheid regimes acts of brutality. The international community’s deafening silence makes Israel feel that it is above the law and can commit its violations without being held accountable and do as they please. Israel should abide by international law and international humanitarian law and be held accountable in all its crimes against humanity.

The Embassy of the State of Palestine avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Members of the Parliamentary of all Political parties in Sri Lanka, Human and Civil rights organizations, the Print and Electronic Media and Friends of Palestine, the assurances of its highest consideration.

Statement issued by the Palestine Embassy in Colombo

Inside Corporate: Bitter Truth Behind India’s Adani

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Excerpts of the research paper published by Hindenburg Research

Today we reveal the findings of our 2-year investigation, presenting evidence that the INR 17.8 trillion (U.S. $218 billion) Indian conglomerate Adani Group has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.

Gautam Adani, Founder and Chairman of the Adani Group, has amassed a net worth of roughly $120 billion, adding over $100 billion in the past 3 years largely through stock price appreciation in the group’s 7 key listed companies, which have spiked an average of 819% in that period.

Our research involved speaking with dozens of individuals, including former senior executives of the Adani Group, reviewing thousands of documents, and conducting diligence site visits in almost half a dozen countries.

Even if you ignore the findings of our investigation and take the financials of Adani Group at face value, its 7 key listed companies have 85% downside purely on a fundamental basis owing to sky-high valuations.

Key listed Adani companies have also taken on substantial debt, including pledging shares of their inflated stock for loans, putting the entire group on precarious financial footing. 5 of 7 key listed companies have reported ‘current ratios’ below 1, indicating near-term liquidity pressure.

The group’s very top ranks and 8 of 22 key leaders are Adani family members, a dynamic that places control of the group’s financials and key decisions in the hands of a few. A former executive described the Adani Group as “a family business.”

The Adani Group has previously been the focus of 4 major government fraud investigations which have alleged money laundering, theft of taxpayer funds and corruption, totaling an estimated U.S. $17 billion. Adani family members allegedly cooperated to create offshore shell entities in tax-haven jurisdictions like Mauritius, the UAE, and Caribbean Islands, generating forged import/export documentation in an apparent effort to generate fake or illegitimate turnover and to siphon money from the listed companies.

Gautam Adani’s younger brother, Rajesh Adani, was accused by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) of playing a central role in a diamond trading import/export scheme around 2004-2005. The alleged scheme involved the use of offshore shell entities to generate artificial turnover. Rajesh was arrested at least twice over separate allegations of forgery and tax fraud. He was subsequently promoted to serve as Managing Director of Adani Group.

Gautam Adani’s brother-in-law, Samir Vora, was accused by the DRI of being a ringleader of the same diamond trading scam and of repeatedly making false statements to regulators. He was subsequently promoted to Executive Director of the critical Adani Australia division.

Gautam Adani’s elder brother, Vinod Adani, has been described by media as “an elusive figure”. He has regularly been found at the center of the government’s investigations into Adani for his alleged role in managing a network of offshore entities used to facilitate fraud.

Our research, which included downloading and cataloguing the entire Mauritius corporate registry, has uncovered that Vinod Adani, through several close associates, manages a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities.

We have identified 38 Mauritius shell entities controlled by Vinod Adani or close associates. We have identified entities that are also surreptitiously controlled by Vinod Adani in Cyprus, the UAE, Singapore, and several Caribbean Islands.

Many of the Vinod Adani-associated entities have no obvious signs of operations, including no reported employees, no independent addresses or phone numbers and no meaningful online presence. Despite this, they have collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals.

We have also uncovered rudimentary efforts seemingly designed to mask the nature of some of the shell entities. For example, 13 websites were created for Vinod Adani-associated entities; many were suspiciously formed on the same days, featuring only stock photos, naming no actual employees and listing the same set of nonsensical services, such as “consumption abroad” and “commercial presence”.

The Vinod-Adani shells seem to serve several functions, including (1) stock parking / stock manipulation (2) and laundering money through Adani’s private companies onto the listed companies’ balance sheets in order to maintain the appearance of financial health and solvency.

Publicly listed companies in India are subject to rules that require all promoter holdings (known as insider holdings in the U.S.) to be disclosed. Rules also require that listed companies have at least 25% of the float held by non-promoters in order to mitigate manipulation and insider trading. 4 of Adani’s listed companies are on the brink of the delisting threshold due to high promoter ownership.

Our research indicates that offshore shells and funds tied to the Adani Group comprise many of the largest “public” (i.e., non-promoter) holders of Adani stock, an issue that would subject the Adani companies to delisting, were Indian securities regulator SEBI’s rules enforced.

Many of the supposed “public” funds exhibit flagrant irregularities such as being (1) Mauritius or offshore-based entities, often shells (2) with beneficial ownership concealed via nominee directors (3) and with little to no diversification, holding portfolios almost exclusively consisting of shares in Adani listed companies.

Right to Information (RTI) requests we filed with SEBI confirm that the offshore funds are the subjects of an ongoing investigation, more than a year-and-a-half after concerns were initially raised by media and members of parliament.

A former trader for Elara, an offshore fund with almost $3 billion in concentrated holdings of Adani shares, including a fund that is ~99% concentrated in shares of Adani, told us that it is obvious that Adani controls the shares. He explained that the funds are intentionally structured to conceal their ultimate beneficial ownership.

Leaked emails show that the CEO of Elara worked on deals with Dharmesh Doshi, a fugitive accountant who worked closely on stock manipulation deals with Ketan Parekh, an infamous Indian market manipulator. The emails indicate that the CEO of Elara worked with Doshi on stock deals after he evaded arrest and was widely known as a fugitive.

Another firm called Monterosa Investment Holdings controls 5 supposedly independent funds that collectively hold over INR 360 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion) in shares of listed Adani companies, according to Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) data and Indian exchange data.

Monterosa’s Chairman and CEO served as director in 3 companies alongside a fugitive diamond merchant who allegedly stole U.S. $1 billion before fleeing India. Vinod Adani’s daughter married the fugitive diamond merchant’s son.

A once-related party entity of Adani invested heavily in one of the Monterosa funds that allocated to Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, according to corporate records, drawing a clear line between the Adani Group and the suspect offshore funds.

Another Cyprus-based entity called New Leaina Investments until June-September 2021 owned over U.S. $420 million in Adani Green Energy shares, comprising ~95% of its portfolio. Parliamentary records show it was (and may still be) a shareholder of other Adani listed entities.

New Leaina is operated by incorporation services firm Amicorp, which has worked extensively to aid Adani in developing its offshore entity network. Amicorp formed at least 7 Adani promoter entities, at least 17 offshore shells and entities associated with Vinod Adani, and at least 3 Mauritius-based offshore shareholders of Adani stock.

Amicorp played a key role in the 1MDB international fraud scandal that resulted in U.S. $4.5 billion being siphoned from Malaysian taxpayers. Amicorp established ‘investment funds’ for the key perpetrators that were “simply a way to wash a client’s money through what looked like a mutual fund”, according to the book Billion Dollar Whale, which reported on the scandal.

‘Delivery volume’ is a unique daily data point that reports institutional investment flows. Our analysis found that offshore suspected stock parking entities accounted for up to 30%-47% of yearly ‘delivery volume’ in several Adani listed companies, a flagrant irregularity indicating that Adani stocks have likely been subject to ‘wash trading’ or other forms of manipulative trading via the suspect offshore entities.

Evidence of stock manipulation in Adani listed companies shouldn’t come as a surprise. SEBI has investigated and prosecuted more than 70 entities and individuals over the years, including Adani promoters, for pumping Adani Enterprises’ stock.

A 2007 SEBI ruling stated that “the charges leveled against promoters of Adani that they aided and abetted Ketan Parekh entities in manipulating the scrip of Adani stand proved”. Ketan Parekh is perhaps India’s most notorious stock market manipulator. Adani Group entities originally received bans for their roles, but those were later reduced to fines, a show of government leniency toward the Group that has become a decades-long pattern.

Per the 2007 investigation, 14 Adani private entities transferred shares to entities controlled by Parekh, who then engaged in blatant market manipulation. Adani Group responded to SEBI by arguing that it had dealt with Ketan Parekh to finance the start of its operations at Mundra port, seemingly suggesting that share sales via stock manipulation somehow constitutes a legitimate form of financing.

As part of our investigation, we interviewed an individual who was banned from trading on Indian markets for stock manipulation via Mauritius-based funds. He told us that he knew Ketan Parekh personally, and that little has changed, explaining “all the previous clients are still loyal to Ketan and are still working with Ketan”.

In addition to using offshore capital to park stock, we found numerous examples of offshore shells sending money through onshore private Adani companies onto listed public Adani companies.

The funds then seem to be used to engineer Adani’s accounting (whether by bolstering its reported profit or cash flows), cushioning its capital balances in order to make listed entities appear more creditworthy, or simply moved back out to other parts of the Adani empire where capital is needed.

We also identified numerous undisclosed related party transactions by both listed and private companies, seemingly an open and repeated violation of Indian disclosure laws.

In one instance, a Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity with no signs of substantive operations lent INR 11.71 billion (U.S. ~$253 million at that time) to a private Adani entity which did not disclose it as being a related party loan. The private entity subsequently lent funds to listed entities, including INR 9.84 billion (U.S. $138 million at more recent substantially lower exchange rates) to Adani Enterprises.

Another Vinod Adani-controlled Mauritius entity called Emerging Market Investment DMCC lists no employees on LinkedIn, has no substantive online presence, has announced no clients or deals, and is based out of an apartment in the UAE. It lent U.S. $1 billion to an Adani Power subsidiary.

This offshore shell network also seems to be used for earnings manipulation. For example, we detail a series of transactions where assets were transferred from a subsidiary of listed Adani Enterprises to a private Singaporean entity controlled by Vinod Adani, without disclosure of the related party nature of these deals. Once on the books of the private entity, the assets were almost immediately impaired, likely helping the public entity avoid a material write-down and negative impact to net income.

Adani Group’s obvious accounting irregularities and sketchy dealings seem to be enabled by virtually non-existent financial controls. Listed Adani companies have seen sustained turnover in the Chief Financial Officer role. For example, Adani Enterprises has had 5 chief financial officers over the course of 8 years, a key red flag indicating potential accounting issues.

The independent auditor for Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas is a tiny firm called Shah Dhandharia. Shah Dhandharia seems to have no current website. Historical archives of its website show that it had only 4 partners and 11 employees. Records show it pays INR 32,000 (U.S. $435 in 2021) in monthly office rent. The only other listed entity we found that it audits has a market capitalization of about INR 640 million (U.S. $7.8 million).

Shah Dhandharia hardly seems capable of complex audit work. Adani Enterprises alone has 156 subsidiaries and many more joint ventures and affiliates, for example. Further, Adani’s 7 key listed entities collectively have 578 subsidiaries and have engaged in a total of 6,025 separate related-party transactions in fiscal year 2022 alone, per BSE disclosures.

The audit partners at Shah Dhandharia who respectively signed off on Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas’ annual audits were as young as 24 and 23 years old when they began approving the audits. They were essentially fresh out of school, hardly in a position to scrutinize and hold to account the financials of some of the largest companies in the country, run by one of its most powerful individuals.

Gautam Adani has claimed in an interview to “have a very open mind towards criticism…Every criticism gives me an opportunity to improve myself.” Despite these claims, Adani has repeatedly sought to have critical journalists or commentators jailed or silenced through litigation, using his immense power to pressure the government and regulators to pursue those who question him.

We believe the Adani Group has been able to operate a large, flagrant fraud in broad daylight in large part because investors, journalists, citizens and even politicians have been afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal.

We have included 88 questions in the conclusion of our report. If Gautam Adani truly embraces transparency, as he claims, they should be easy questions to answer. We look forward to Adani’s response.

Click here to read the complete report

Turkey Embassy in Colombo Requests Public to Beware of Frauds

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It has been brought to the immediate attention of the Embassy that some misinformation is being circulated in social media according to which Türkiye has been recruiting manpower in Sri Lanka”, the Turkish embassy in Colombo has noted in a press communiqué.

“The Embassy would like to hereby inform neither the Turkish Embassy in Colombo nor the Turkish Ministry of Interior are related or connected with such recruitment activities, seemingly organised by some private individuals,” the communiqué further asserted.

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