The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name—down what was once a country lane in rural Panama City, a now-booming resort cityMore
In the last nine years after Mr. Narendra Modi assumed office as Prime Minister of India, there is no doubt that India has achieved significant progress and has made rapid strides in multiple directions. Several infrastructure projects, welfare programmes, proactive policies towards industrial development and number of reform measures have been implemented. However, one area where there is not much of difference is in the level of corruption at different levels all over India.
While Mr.Modi has ensured that top administration in central government is nearly transparent without corrupt dealings, this is not so in the case of lower level of administration and in several states in the country.
Cross section of people living in various parts of India in different age groups, educational level and economic strata are of the view that the most serious problem confronting India today is the widespread corruption in government departments and public life. Not only several politicians, bureaucrats, but government employees at various levels are also indulging in corruption, widespread corruption is prevalent in private educational institutions, private hospitals, real estates and even in places of worship and other areas from bottom level to top level. Of course, occasionally , it is also seen that there are honest and incorruptible people in government departments and public and private sector organisations. They are few and far between. The non-corrupt person today is considered as an exception rather than a rule.
It is extremely distressing to note that many people have started thinking that corruption is the order of the day, whether in private or public sector activities. As a matter of fact, corruption has become cyclical , in that one person who takes bribe at one place also gives bribe at another place to get things done.
In spite of such conditions, Prime Minister Modi remains as the most popular leader in the country enjoying public confidence, as people believe that he is a man of great personal integrity and if anyone in India can root out corruption in India today , this cause can be achieved by only Prime Minister Modi.
On more than one occasion, Mr. Modi has said or give an impression by his decisions that the best way of rooting out corruption in India is by making changes in the system of transaction and administration. He has been stressing on the importance of massive and large scale digitalization as the best method of promoting transparency and rooting out corruption.
Mr. Modi has taken some steps in this regard by opening zero bank account for millions of poor people in India and ensuring that welfare fund for the poor people including agricultural farmers would be provided by bank transaction, so that middle men would be avoided and syphoning of the fund would be eliminated. This is good as far as it goes ,but certainly many other stronger steps are needed.
It is well known that most of the corrupt dealing takes place in the form of cash transaction. Therefore, high level of digitalization and minimum amount of currency in circulation is the strategy and pre condition that is required to root out corruption.
While the level of digitalization in the country has been steadily increasing, unfortunately the currency circulation has also increased to high level.
The currency circulation in value terms has soared from ₹17.74 lakh crore on November 4, 2016, to ₹32.42 lakh crore on December 23, 2022. Currency in circulation, which was ₹18.04-lakh crore in end-March 2018, jumped to ₹31.34-lakh crore in end-March 2022 and further to ₹32.42-lakh crore as on December 23, 2022.
With huge currency in circulation, many raids carried out by investigating agencies like enforcement directorate, Income tax authorities have seen huge bundle of currency notes worth several crore of rupees kept in the raided premises. Obviously, this bundle of currencies are the black money and corrupt money accumulated by evading taxes and indulging in corrupt dealings.
While campaign for honesty in public and private life by various sources have been taking place for long time in the country, this has not seen any reduction in the level of corruption in India. The repeated catching of corrupt persons by vigilance department have also not yielded much benefits ,as they are only the tip of iceberg.
The only way is to reduce rapidly the circulation of currency note in the country, which inevitably would lead to greater level of digitalization and transparency in transactions and bring down the currency led corruption. The recent rapid increase in currency circulation by Reserve Bank of India is a mistake with serious adverse consequences.
This situation has to be retrieved by steadily decreasing the level of high value currency notes in circulation.
Corruption is a persistent problem in many countries, including Sri Lanka. It hinders economic development, undermines public trust in government, and erodes the rule of law. One solution that has been successful in combating corruption is the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism. In this article, let me explore why Sri Lanka needs such a mechanism and how it could be implemented.
Firstly, let’s look at what the Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism entails. Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established in 1974 and has since become a model for effective anti-corruption measures. The ICAC is an independent agency that investigates and prosecutes corruption cases without interference from the government. The agency has a high success rate in convicting corrupt officials and has been instrumental in reducing corruption in Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has a long history of corruption. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Sri Lanka ranks 94 out of 180 countries, indicating a high level of perceived corruption. Corruption in Sri Lanka is widespread and affects all levels of society, from the police to politicians to public officials. The country has faced several high-profile corruption scandals in recent years, including the Central Bank bond scam, which led to a loss of over $11 million.
The current anti-corruption mechanisms in Sri Lanka have proven to be ineffective in combating corruption. The existing anti-corruption bodies lack independence and often face political interference. The Bribery Commission, which is responsible for investigating corruption cases, has been criticized for being understaffed and underfunded. The legal framework for combating corruption is also weak, with low penalties for corruption offences.
A Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to Sri Lanka’s corruption problem. The mechanism would involve establishing an independent commission, similar to the ICAC, that would have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases. The commission would have the resources and the authority to operate independently of the government and other institutions.
The commission would also be responsible for educating the public on the dangers of corruption and promoting transparency and accountability in government. The commission could work with civil society organizations, the media, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.
To implement a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism in Sri Lanka, several steps need to be taken. Firstly, the government must demonstrate a commitment to combating corruption by establishing an independent commission and providing it with the necessary resources. The commission should also have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption cases without political interference.
Secondly, the legal framework for combating corruption needs to be strengthened. Penalties for corruption offences should be increased, and the legal process for prosecuting corruption cases should be expedited. The government should also consider enacting a law on whistle-blowing to protect those who report corruption.
Finally, the public needs to be educated about the dangers of corruption and the importance of transparency and accountability in government. The commission could launch a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of corruption and promote good governance.
In conclusion, Sri Lanka’s corruption problem is a major obstacle to economic development and good governance. The current anti-corruption mechanisms are ineffective, and a Hong Kong Style anti-corruption mechanism could be the answer to combatting corruption in the country. Establishing an independent commission, strengthening the legal framework, and promoting public awareness of corruption are necessary steps to ensure the mechanism’s success. The government and civil society organizations should work together to implement these measures and ensure a corruption-free future for Sri Lanka.
Bottom line is that as the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew says, “the fight against corruption is not a fight that can be won by government alone. The ultimate solution lies in the attitudes and values of the people.”
Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe has disregarded and trivialised the extent of illicit financial flows through trade mis-invoicing in instigating Sri Lanka’s ongoing foreign exchange and fiscal crisis. This was fully apparent at the Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance meeting on January 23rd in response to revelations made by us as a collective of Sri Lanka’s prominent trade unions, mass organisations, professionals and economists.
In response to questions raised by Parliamentarians on our statement at the Committee meeting, the CBSL Governor responded,
“Obviously people who do under-invoicing or over-invoicing happens basically to evade taxes. If you have taxation, you declare low value and pay low taxes and then they keep money. probably they keep it out or bring it here. That’s their business. We don’t know.”
The Governor of the country’s Central Bank continued to rationalise or mis-rationalise his admitted ignorance by speaking in a language which is alien to economists, saying,
“Other thing is, I don’t believe this number. Reason is if exporters are doing business here, they can’t keep that amount of money abroad.”
After hearing this, we as citizens are concerned whether the operations of the CBSL are in fact moving forward on the erroneous personal beliefs of the CBSL Governorat this time of deep economic crisis. Since the CBSL Governor ‘does not know’, we as trade unions, civil society organisations, economists and concerned professionals find the need to enlighten him, CBSL Officials and all concerned citizens the extent and dynamics of trade mis-invoicing in accelerating Sri Lanka’s economic collapse. In the following account we will critically address the misleading remarks of CBSL Governor on capital outflows through trade mis-invoicing.
International Recognition that Trade Mis-invoicingis Not a Myth
The CBSL Governor dismissed the findings of Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report published in December 2021 which pointed out that an estimated US$ 40 billion was transferred out of the economy between 2009-2018 through fraudulent invoicing by corporates operating in the import-export sector. This figure significantly exceeds Sri Lanka’s foreign debt of US$ 36 billion in default since April 2022. The impact of capital outflow of this magnitude on the ongoing economic collapse is self-explanatory. Nevertheless, the CBSL Governor is of the view that corporates would not have sufficient funds to operate within the economy if such a large sum of capital is held outside the country. Consequently, he falsely concludes that the GFI estimates are extreme exaggerations. This amounts to a complete misunderstanding of illicit outflows globally. If not, it indicates that the CBSL’s Governor and officials are colluding with business interests and the political establishment to trivialise and dismiss what appears to be the largest financial crime in Sri Lankan history.
These outflows are surpluses from both legal and illegal operations and therefore are not reutilised in domestic operations and in the interest of expanding industries locally. Economists such as Professor Arun Kumar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, have pointed out that the illegal outflow of capital is used to acquire property abroad or in conspicuous luxury consumption. In other words, illicit financial outflows enable the extravagant enrichment of individuals at the expense of entire countries in the third world.
However illicit financial flows are a common occurrence in countries which have poor financial controls. For instance, theUN referring to the GFI report published in 2014 recognised that illicit financial flows from the African continent through trade mis-invoicing from 1970 to 2009 is a staggering four times the aggregate foreign debt of the region.Furthermore, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in September 2020 revealed that an estimated US$ 88.6 billion leaves the African continent as illicit capital flight yearly and the aggregate outflows between 2000-2015 (US$ 836 billion) is far greater than total foreign borrowings of the continent (US$ 770 billion).
The ground-breaking findings of GFI and their collective work with the UN, the World Bank and the IMF advocated including illicit financial flows in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 under goal 16.4 to which Sri Lanka is also a signatory. As early as September 2018, Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN’s Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights for 2014-2020 stated following his visit to Sri Lanka that “no study or official estimation of illicit outflows or inflows has been conducted to date in Sri Lanka”. In his report, he urged the Government “to conduct these studies in order to further curb illicit financial flows in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Further, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2003 emphasized that “inaccurate pricing (“misinvoicing”) of imports or exports [is used] to hide the transfer of funds. When such transactions are extensive, the impact on a country’s entire external sector can be substantial” (ADB,Manual on Countering Money Laundering, 2003). In 2017, the ADB further estimated that trade mis-invoicing accounts for a staggering 83% of all illicit capital outflows from developing countries. The recent statement endorsed by 182 globally renowned economists, academics and activists demanding cancellation of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt also highlighted that capital outflows during the past 15 years is estimated to be greater than Sri Lanka’s total outstanding foreign debt.
There is thus a vast body of research conducted by institutions such as the ADB, IMF, World Bank, OHCHR, UNCTAD and international economists on what happens to national economic development when rampant corruption is allowed through illicit financial flows. It is therefore hugely concerning that our CBSL Governor ‘does not believe’ and does not seem to be aware of the impact illicit financial flows through trade mis-invoicing have hadon the Sri Lankan debt crisis. Ultimately, it is a tragedy that Sri Lanka’s foremost authority on economic affairs is completely oblivious to chronic issues engulfing the developing world and the root causes of the fiscal crises we face. Alternatively, if this is not ignorance or misunderstanding, then it points to deliberate collusion by the CBSL’s Governor and his officials with business interests and the political establishment to trivialise and dismiss what are massive financial crimes.
Government Enabling of Illicit Capital Flows
We are well aware that the Sri Lankan Government ‘legally’ permitted companies to park income outside the country for years and that this economic hara-kiri was only addressed in October 2021 through a regulation under the Monetary Law Act. It is our interest as citizens to know the full impact of this disastrous blunder. We demand that the CBSL publicise the amount of residual income that the export sector failed to repatriate between the period October 2021 to date, thereby aggravating the economic crisis. We further request institutions such as the CBSL to be responsible and reflect on the implications of the ‘legality’ of enabling local companies to take capital on a developing economy like ours’ in the long run. We are glad to note that the CBSL Governor is aware of other developing countries such as India and Malaysia which have placed restrictions on financial flows as part of a policy framework to accelerate their development with the capital produced in their own countries.
CBSL Governor passing the buck to Customs
In a separate press conference on January 26th,Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghestated it is the responsibility of the public to inform the Financial Investigative Unit (FIU) of CBSL and Customs Department if they have conclusive evidence of firms involved in fraudulent trade invoicing.It is only then he claimed that the FIU of CBSL and Customs Department can take appropriate legal measures against the perpetrators. He further stated it is the responsibility of Customs Department to address mis-invoicing and not of the CBSL. These assertions indicate the reluctance of CBSL to recognise and investigate illicit outflows. It is shocking to hear from the Governor that it is the general public who should provide information or advise CBSL on highly technical matters like illicit capital transfers when the CBSL employs the greatest number of Ph.D.holders under one institution in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it is clearly stated throughout the Monetary Law Act, No. 58 of 1949 that the CBSL bears the responsibility and authority to address issues threatening the economic stability and economic wellbeing of the general public. Hence,the CBSL cannot simply abdicate responsibility by passing the mantle to Customs Department and the general public.
Export profits are only a fraction of capital transfers through trade mis-invoicing
During the Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance meeting,the CBSL Governor further claimed that capital flight through trade mis-invoicing is tantamount to shifting profits to an overseas destination for tax avoidance. However, this is a gross understatement of the gravity of the issue. We have shown in our earlier statements that the over-invoicing of imports transfers out foreign exchange received as foreign borrowing and even workers’ remittances. This compounds the foreign debt crisis, leads to chronic shortages of foreign exchange to finance essential imports and a collapse of living conditions. A study based on 39 African countries illustrates that between 1970 and 2010 approximately 63% to 73% of foreign borrowing exited Africa within a five-year window as a result of capital flight through trade mis-invoicing. Further, the IMF in its publications over the years shows that the loss of foreign reserves of Central Banks is accelerated by capital flight through trade mis-invoicing while decreasing tax revenue.It diminishes governments’ debt-servicing capacity and worsens the incidence of balance of payments crises. Capital outflows are a diversion of domestic savings out of the economy and deplete domestic resources, compelling governments to absorb more and more foreign debt to finance domestic investments, and exacerbating debt unsustainability. Needless to say that these observations are clearly applicable to the course of Sri Lankan economy over the past three decades as we have emphasised repeatedly in earlier statements.
“IMF Budget” for the People, Non-IMF Concessions for Corrupt Businessmen
The government is imposing an ‘IMF budget’ on Sri Lanka, making life unbearable to ordinary Sri Lankans, particularly working and poor people. We hope that the CBSL Governor is able to see the ground from the tall towers he occupies and observe how people are not eating any longer because they can’t afford food; have restricted even essential travel for medical and educational purposes; live in the dark because electricity has become a luxury; and have children not going to school because of hunger and costs. His ‘belief’ is costing the lives of millions in Sri Lanka. Hence, we as trade unions, civil society organisations, economists and concerned professionals ask the obvious question – Why has the Government failed to move an inch on the observations and recommendations of institutions such as the IMF on illicit financial outflows? Why is the Government burying its head in sand while their friends, the business elite, loot money out of this country and deny our country of much-needed foreign exchange?
The CBSL should therefore immediately implement a coordinated mechanism integrating itself with commercial banks and the Customs Department to investigate the issue and repatriate illicitly transferred, funds starting from most recent transactions. Instead of speculating on the credibility of GFI and the extent of trade mis-invoicing which are already recognised by international organisations like the UN, World Bank, IMF and ADB, the CBSL should collaborate with GFI and UNCTAD to further clarify the findings on Sri Lanka that emerged from 2021GFI report. In the absence of no such an initiative being even proposed by the CBSL Governor, we can only conclude thatthe CBSL is complying with the criminal corporate-political corruption that has driven the economy to the ground and ordinary Sri Lankans into destitution.
Swasthika Arulingam, President, Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union, United Federation of Labour
Signed on behalf of: Centre for Community Empowerment,Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union,Ceylon Federation of Labour,Ceylon Teachers’ Union,Dabindu Union,Engineers’ Services Professional Association,Federation of Media Workers’ Trade Union, Institute for People Engagement and Networking, Mass Movement for Social Justice, Movement for the Defence of Democratic Rights,Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform,Movement for Plantation Peoples’ Land Rights, National Collaboration Development Foundation,National Trade Protection Council, North South Solidarity Group, Professionals’ Centre for People,Protect Union, Satahan Media,Rural Development Foundation, Social Institute for Development of Plantation Sector,Sri Lanka All Telecommunication Employees’ Union,Stand Up Workers’ Union,Suriya Shakthi FoundationNuwaraEliya,Textiles Garments and Clothing Workers’ Union,United Fishermen’s and Fish Workers’ Congress,Upcountry Civil Society Collective, UvaShakthi Foundation,Young Lawyers’ Association
SugathKulathunga–Former Senior Advisor at International Trade Centre (WTO/UNCTAD), Former Director General of Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Former Additional Secretary to Ministry of Trade, Prof. (Dr.) M. P.S. Magamage – Former Chairman of National Livestock Development Board,Dr. KalpaRajapaksha – Senior Lecturer in Economics,AmaliWedagedara – Political Economist and PhD Student, DhanushaPathirana– Economist
The U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center can be found in a location as obscure as its name—down what was once a country lane in rural Panama City, a now-booming resort city in the southwestern panhandle of Florida, 70 miles south of the Alabama border. The center’s complex is as nondescript as its location—a drab concrete post-World War II structure that has the look of a vocational high school on the west side of Chicago. A coin-operated laundromat and a dance school are across what is now a four-lane road.
The center has been training highly skilled deep-water divers for decades who, once assigned to American military units worldwide, are capable of technical diving to do the good—using C4 explosives to clear harbors and beaches of debris and unexploded ordinance—as well as the bad, like blowing up foreign oil rigs, fouling intake valves for undersea power plants, destroying locks on crucial shipping canals. The Panama City center, which boasts the second largest indoor pool in America, was the perfect place to recruit the best, and most taciturn, graduates of the diving school who successfully did last summer what they had been authorized to do 260 feet under the surface of the Baltic Sea.
Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
Two of the pipelines, which were known collectively as Nord Stream 1, had been providing Germany and much of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas for more than a decade. A second pair of pipelines, called Nord Stream 2, had been built but were not yet operational. Now, with Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and the bloodiest war in Europe since 1945 looming, President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions.
Asked for comment, Adrienne Watson, a White House spokesperson, said in an email, “This is false and complete fiction.” Tammy Thorp, a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency, similarly wrote: “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.
There was a vital bureaucratic reason for relying on the graduates of the center’s hardcore diving school in Panama City. The divers were Navy only, and not members of America’s Special Operations Command, whose covert operations must be reported to Congress and briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership—the so-called Gang of Eight. The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks as the planning took place late in 2021 and into the first months of 2022.
President Biden and his foreign policy team—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Policy—had been vocal and consistent in their hostility to the two pipelines, which ran side by side for 750 miles under the Baltic Sea from two different ports in northeastern Russia near the Estonian border, passing close to the Danish island of Bornholm before ending in northern Germany.
The direct route, which bypassed any need to transit Ukraine, had been a boon for the German economy, which enjoyed an abundance of cheap Russian natural gas—enough to run its factories and heat its homes while enabling German distributors to sell excess gas, at a profit, throughout Western Europe. Action that could be traced to the administration would violate US promises to minimize direct conflict with Russia. Secrecy was essential.
From its earliest days, Nord Stream 1 was seen by Washington and its anti-Russian NATO partners as a threat to western dominance. The holding company behind it, Nord Stream AG, was incorporated in Switzerland in 2005 in partnership with Gazprom, a publicly traded Russian company producing enormous profits for shareholders which is dominated by oligarchs known to be in the thrall of Putin. Gazprom controlled 51 percent of the company, with four European energy firms—one in France, one in the Netherlands and two in Germany—sharing the remaining 49 percent of stock, and having the right to control downstream sales of the inexpensive natural gas to local distributors in Germany and Western Europe. Gazprom’s profits were shared with the Russian government, and state gas and oil revenues were estimated in some years to amount to as much as 45 percent of Russia’s annual budget.
America’s political fears were real: Putin would now have an additional and much-needed major source of income, and Germany and the rest of Western Europe would become addicted to low-cost natural gas supplied by Russia—while diminishing European reliance on America. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. Many Germans saw Nord Stream 1 as part of the deliverance of former Chancellor Willy Brandt’s famed Ostpolitik theory, which would enable postwar Germany to rehabilitate itself and other European nations destroyed in World War II by, among other initiatives, utilizing cheap Russian gas to fuel a prosperous Western European market and trading economy.
Nord Stream 1 was dangerous enough, in the view of NATO and Washington, but Nord Stream 2, whose construction was completed in September of 2021, would, if approved by German regulators, double the amount of cheap gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe. The second pipeline also would provide enough gas for more than 50 percent of Germany’s annual consumption. Tensions were constantly escalating between Russia and NATO, backed by the aggressive foreign policy of the Biden Administration.
Opposition to Nord Stream 2 flared on the eve of the Biden inauguration in January 2021, when Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, repeatedly raised the political threat of cheap Russian natural gas during the confirmation hearing of Blinken as Secretary of State. By then a unified Senate had successfully passed a law that, as Cruz told Blinken, “halted [the pipeline] in its tracks.” There would be enormous political and economic pressure from the German government, then headed by Angela Merkel, to get the second pipeline online.
Would Biden stand up to the Germans? Blinken said yes, but added that he had not discussed the specifics of the incoming President’s views. “I know his strong conviction that this is a bad idea, the Nord Stream 2,” he said. “I know that he would have us use every persuasive tool that we have to convince our friends and partners, including Germany, not to move forward with it.”
A few months later, as the construction of the second pipeline neared completion, Biden blinked. That May, in a stunning turnaround, the administration waived sanctions against Nord Stream AG, with a State Department official conceding that trying to stop the pipeline through sanctions and diplomacy had “always been a long shot.” Behind the scenes, administration officials reportedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, by then facing a threat of Russian invasion, not to criticize the move.
There were immediate consequences. Senate Republicans, led by Cruz, announced an immediate blockade of all of Biden’s foreign policy nominees and delayed passage of the annual defense bill for months, deep into the fall. Politico later depicted Biden’s turnabout on the second Russian pipeline as “the one decision, arguably more than the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan, that has imperiled Biden’s agenda.”
The administration was floundering, despite getting a reprieve on the crisis in mid-November, when Germany’s energy regulators suspended approval of the second Nord Stream pipeline. Natural gas prices surged 8% within days, amid growing fears in Germany and Europe that the pipeline suspension and the growing possibility of a war between Russia and Ukraine would lead to a very much unwanted cold winter. It was not clear to Washington just where Olaf Scholz, Germany’s newly appointed chancellor, stood. Months earlier, after the fall of Afghanistan, Scholtz had publicly endorsed French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a more autonomous European foreign policy in a speech in Prague—clearly suggesting less reliance on Washington and its mercurial actions.
Throughout all of this, Russian troops had been steadily and ominously building up on the borders of Ukraine, and by the end of December more than 100,000 soldiers were in position to strike from Belarus and Crimea. Alarm was growing in Washington, including an assessment from Blinken that those troop numbers could be “doubled in short order.”
The administration’s attention once again was focused on Nord Stream. As long as Europe remained dependent on the pipelines for cheap natural gas, Washington was afraid that countries like Germany would be reluctant to supply Ukraine with the money and weapons it needed to defeat Russia.
It was at this unsettled moment that Biden authorized Jake Sullivan to bring together an interagency group to come up with a plan.
All options were to be on the table. But only one would emerge.
In December of 2021, two months before the first Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly formed task force—men and women from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, and the State and Treasury Departments—and asked for recommendations about how to respond to Putin’s impending invasion.
It would be the first of a series of top-secret meetings, in a secure room on a top floor of the Old Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House, that was also the home of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). There was the usual back and forth chatter that eventually led to a crucial preliminary question: Would the recommendation forwarded by the group to the President be reversible—such as another layer of sanctions and currency restrictions—or irreversible—that is, kinetic actions, which could not be undone?
What became clear to participants, according to the source with direct knowledge of the process, is that Sullivan intended for the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines—and that he was delivering on the desires of the President.
Over the next several meetings, the participants debated options for an attack. The Navy proposed using a newly commissioned submarine to assault the pipeline directly. The Air Force discussed dropping bombs with delayed fuses that could be set off remotely. The CIA argued that whatever was done, it would have to be covert. Everyone involved understood the stakes. “This is not kiddie stuff,” the source said. If the attack were traceable to the United States, “It’s an act of war.”
At the time, the CIA was directed by William Burns, a mild-mannered former ambassador to Russia who had served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama Administration. Burns quickly authorized an Agency working group whose ad hoc members included—by chance—someone who was familiar with the capabilities of the Navy’s deep-sea divers in Panama City. Over the next few weeks, members of the CIA’s working group began to craft a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to trigger an explosion along the pipeline.
Something like this had been done before. In 1971, the American intelligence community learned from still undisclosed sources that two important units of the Russian Navy were communicating via an undersea cable buried in the Sea of Okhotsk, on Russia’s Far East Coast. The cable linked a regional Navy command to the mainland headquarters at Vladivostok.
A hand-picked team of Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency operatives was assembled somewhere in the Washington area, under deep cover, and worked out a plan, using Navy divers, modified submarines and a deep-submarine rescue vehicle, that succeeded, after much trial and error, in locating the Russian cable. The divers planted a sophisticated listening device on the cable that successfully intercepted the Russian traffic and recorded it on a taping system.
The NSA learned that senior Russian navy officers, convinced of the security of their communication link, chatted away with their peers without encryption. The recording device and its tape had to be replaced monthly and the project rolled on merrily for a decade until it was compromised by a forty-four-year-old civilian NSA technician named Ronald Pelton who was fluent in Russian. Pelton was betrayed by a Russian defector in 1985 and sentenced to prison. He was paid just $5,000 by the Russians for his revelations about the operation, along with $35,000 for other Russian operational data he provided that was never made public.
That underwater success, codenamed Ivy Bells, was innovative and risky, and produced invaluable intelligence about the Russian Navy’s intentions and planning.
Still, the interagency group was initially skeptical of the CIA’s enthusiasm for a covert deep-sea attack. There were too many unanswered questions. The waters of the Baltic Sea were heavily patrolled by the Russian navy, and there were no oil rigs that could be used as cover for a diving operation. Would the divers have to go to Estonia, right across the border from Russia’s natural gas loading docks, to train for the mission? “It would be a goat fuck,” the Agency was told.
Throughout “all of this scheming,” the source said, “some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out.’”
Nevertheless, in early 2022, the CIA working group reported back to Sullivan’s interagency group: “We have a way to blow up the pipelines.”
What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
Twenty days earlier, Undersecretary Nuland had delivered essentially the same message at a State Department briefing, with little press coverage. “I want to be very clear to you today,” she said in response to a question. “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
Several of those involved in planning the pipeline mission were dismayed by what they viewed as indirect references to the attack.
“It was like putting an atomic bomb on the ground in Tokyo and telling the Japanese that we are going to detonate it,” the source said. “The plan was for the options to be executed post invasion and not advertised publicly. Biden simply didn’t get it or ignored it.”
Biden’s and Nuland’s indiscretion, if that is what it was, might have frustrated some of the planners. But it also created an opportunity. According to the source, some of the senior officials of the CIA determined that blowing up the pipeline “no longer could be considered a covert option because the President just announced that we knew how to do it.”
The plan to blow up Nord Stream 1 and 2 was suddenly downgraded from a covert operation requiring that Congress be informed to one that was deemed as a highly classified intelligence operation with U.S. military support. Under the law, the source explained, “There was no longer a legal requirement to report the operation to Congress. All they had to do now is just do it—but it still had to be secret. The Russians have superlative surveillance of the Baltic Sea.”
The Agency working group members had no direct contact with the White House, and were eager to find out if the President meant what he’d said—that is, if the mission was now a go. The source recalled, “Bill Burns comes back and says, ‘Do it.’”
Norway was the perfect place to base the mission.
In the past few years of East-West crisis, the U.S. military has vastly expanded its presence inside Norway, whose western border runs 1,400 miles along the north Atlantic Ocean and merges above the Arctic Circle with Russia. The Pentagon has created high paying jobs and contracts, amid some local controversy, by investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade and expand American Navy and Air Force facilities in Norway. The new works included, most importantly, an advanced synthetic aperture radar far up north that was capable of penetrating deep into Russia and came online just as the American intelligence community lost access to a series of long-range listening sites inside China.
A newly refurbished American submarine base, which had been under construction for years, had become operational and more American submarines were now able to work closely with their Norwegian colleagues to monitor and spy on a major Russian nuclear redoubt 250 miles to the east, on the Kola Peninsula. America also has vastly expanded a Norwegian air base in the north and delivered to the Norwegian air force a fleet of Boeing-built P8 Poseidon patrol planes to bolster its long-range spying on all things Russia.
In return, the Norwegian government angered liberals and some moderates in its parliament last November by passing the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA). Under the new deal, the U.S. legal system would have jurisdiction in certain “agreed areas” in the North over American soldiers accused of crimes off base, as well as over those Norwegian citizens accused or suspected of interfering with the work at the base.
Norway was one of the original signatories of the NATO Treaty in 1949, in the early days of the Cold War. Today, the supreme commander of NATO is Jens Stoltenberg, a committed anti-communist, who served as Norway’s prime minister for eight years before moving to his high NATO post, with American backing, in 2014. He was a hardliner on all things Putin and Russia who had cooperated with the American intelligence community since the Vietnam War. He has been trusted completely since. “He is the glove that fits the American hand,” the source said.
Back in Washington, planners knew they had to go to Norway. “They hated the Russians, and the Norwegian navy was full of superb sailors and divers who had generations of experience in highly profitable deep-sea oil and gas exploration,” the source said. They also could be trusted to keep the mission secret. (The Norwegians may have had other interests as well. The destruction of Nord Stream—if the Americans could pull it off—would allow Norway to sell vastly more of its own natural gas to Europe.)
Sometime in March, a few members of the team flew to Norway to meet with the Norwegian Secret Service and Navy. One of the key questions was where exactly in the Baltic Sea was the best place to plant the explosives. Nord Stream 1 and 2, each with two sets of pipelines, were separated much of the way by little more than a mile as they made their run to the port of Greifswald in the far northeast of Germany.
The Norwegian navy was quick to find the right spot, in the shallow waters of the Baltic sea a few miles off Denmark’s Bornholm Island. The pipelines ran more than a mile apart along a seafloor that was only 260 feet deep. That would be well within the range of the divers, who, operating from a Norwegian Alta class mine hunter, would dive with a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and helium streaming from their tanks, and plant shaped C4 charges on the four pipelines with concrete protective covers. It would be tedious, time consuming and dangerous work, but the waters off Bornholm had another advantage: there were no major tidal currents, which would have made the task of diving much more difficult.
After a bit of research, the Americans were all in.
At this point, the Navy’s obscure deep-diving group in Panama City once again came into play. The deep-sea schools at Panama City, whose trainees participated in Ivy Bells, are seen as an unwanted backwater by the elite graduates of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, who typically seek the glory of being assigned as a Seal, fighter pilot, or submariner. If one must become a “Black Shoe”—that is, a member of the less desirable surface ship command—there is always at least duty on a destroyer, cruiser or amphibious ship. The least glamorous of all is mine warfare. Its divers never appear in Hollywood movies, or on the cover of popular magazines.
“The best divers with deep diving qualifications are a tight community, and only the very best are recruited for the operation and told to be prepared to be summoned to the CIA in Washington,” the source said.
The Norwegians and Americans had a location and the operatives, but there was another concern: any unusual underwater activity in the waters off Bornholm might draw the attention of the Swedish or Danish navies, which could report it.
Denmark had also been one of the original NATO signatories and was known in the intelligence community for its special ties to the United Kingdom. Sweden had applied for membership into NATO, and had demonstrated its great skill in managing its underwater sound and magnetic sensor systems that successfully tracked Russian submarines that would occasionally show up in remote waters of the Swedish archipelago and be forced to the surface.
The Norwegians joined the Americans in insisting that some senior officials in Denmark and Sweden had to be briefed in general terms about possible diving activity in the area. In that way, someone higher up could intervene and keep a report out of the chain of command, thus insulating the pipeline operation. “What they were told and what they knew were purposely different,” the source told me. (The Norwegian embassy, asked to comment on this story, did not respond.)
The Norwegians were key to solving other hurdles. The Russian navy was known to possess surveillance technology capable of spotting, and triggering, underwater mines. The American explosive devices needed to be camouflaged in a way that would make them appear to the Russian system as part of the natural background—something that required adapting to the specific salinity of the water. The Norwegians had a fix.
The Norwegians also had a solution to the crucial question of when the operation should take place. Every June, for the past 21 years, the American Sixth Fleet, whose flagship is based in Gaeta, Italy, south of Rome, has sponsored a major NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea involving scores of allied ships throughout the region. The current exercise, held in June, would be known as Baltic Operations 22, or BALTOPS 22. The Norwegians proposed this would be the ideal cover to plant the mines.
The Americans provided one vital element: they convinced the Sixth Fleet planners to add a research and development exercise to the program. The exercise, as made public by the Navy, involved the Sixth Fleet in collaboration with the Navy’s “research and warfare centers.” The at-sea event would be held off the coast of Bornholm Island and involve NATO teams of divers planting mines, with competing teams using the latest underwater technology to find and destroy them.
It was both a useful exercise and ingenious cover. The Panama City boys would do their thing and the C4 explosives would be in place by the end of BALTOPS22, with a 48-hour timer attached. All of the Americans and Norwegians would be long gone by the first explosion.
The days were counting down. “The clock was ticking, and we were nearing mission accomplished,” the source said.
And then: Washington had second thoughts. The bombs would still be planted during BALTOPS, but the White House worried that a two-day window for their detonation would be too close to the end of the exercise, and it would be obvious that America had been involved.
Instead, the White House had a new request: “Can the guys in the field come up with some way to blow the pipelines later on command?”
Some members of the planning team were angered and frustrated by the President’s seeming indecision. The Panama City divers had repeatedly practiced planting the C4 on pipelines, as they would during BALTOPS, but now the team in Norway had to come up with a way to give Biden what he wanted—the ability to issue a successful execution order at a time of his choosing.
Being tasked with an arbitrary, last-minute change was something the CIA was accustomed to managing. But it also renewed the concerns some shared over the necessity, and legality, of the entire operation.
The President’s secret orders also evoked the CIA’s dilemma in the Vietnam War days, when President Johnson, confronted by growing anti-Vietnam War sentiment, ordered the Agency to violate its charter—which specifically barred it from operating inside America—by spying on antiwar leaders to determine whether they were being controlled by Communist Russia.
The agency ultimately acquiesced, and throughout the 1970s it became clear just how far it had been willing to go. There were subsequent newspaper revelations in the aftermath of the Watergate scandals about the Agency’s spying on American citizens, its involvement in the assassination of foreign leaders and its undermining of the socialist government of Salvador Allende.
Those revelations led to a dramatic series of hearings in the mid-1970s in the Senate, led by Frank Church of Idaho, that made it clear that Richard Helms, the Agency director at the time, accepted that he had an obligation to do what the President wanted, even if it meant violating the law.
In unpublished, closed-door testimony, Helms ruefully explained that “you almost have an Immaculate Conception when you do something” under secret orders from a President. “Whether it’s right that you should have it, or wrong that you shall have it, [the CIA] works under different rules and ground rules than any other part of the government.” He was essentially telling the Senators that he, as head of the CIA, understood that he had been working for the Crown, and not the Constitution.
The Americans at work in Norway operated under the same dynamic, and dutifully began working on the new problem—how to remotely detonate the C4 explosives on Biden’s order. It was a much more demanding assignment than those in Washington understood. There was no way for the team in Norway to know when the President might push the button. Would it be in a few weeks, in many months or in half a year or longer?
The C4 attached to the pipelines would be triggered by a sonar buoy dropped by a plane on short notice, but the procedure involved the most advanced signal processing technology. Once in place, the delayed timing devices attached to any of the four pipelines could be accidentally triggered by the complex mix of ocean background noises throughout the heavily trafficked Baltic Sea—from near and distant ships, underwater drilling, seismic events, waves and even sea creatures. To avoid this, the sonar buoy, once in place, would emit a sequence of unique low frequency tonal sounds—much like those emitted by a flute or a piano—that would be recognized by the timing device and, after a pre-set hours of delay, trigger the explosives. (“You want a signal that is robust enough so that no other signal could accidentally send a pulse that detonated the explosives,” I was told by Dr. Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology and national security policy at MIT. Postol, who has served as the science adviser to the Pentagon’s Chief of Naval Operations, said the issue facing the group in Norway because of Biden’s delay was one of chance: “The longer the explosives are in the water the greater risk there would be of a random signal that would launch the bombs.”)
On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.
In the immediate aftermath of the pipeline bombing, the American media treated it like an unsolved mystery. Russia was repeatedly cited as a likely culprit, spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House—but without ever establishing a clear motive for such an act of self-sabotage, beyond simple retribution. A few months later, when it emerged that Russian authorities had been quietly getting estimates for the cost to repair the pipelines, the New York Times described the news as “complicating theories about who was behind” the attack. No major American newspaper dug into the earlier threats to the pipelines made by Biden and Undersecretary of State Nuland.
While it was never clear why Russia would seek to destroy its own lucrative pipeline, a more telling rationale for the President’s action came from Secretary of State Blinken.
Asked at a press conference last September about the consequences of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, Blinken described the moment as a potentially good one:
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come, but meanwhile we’re determined to do everything we possibly can to make sure the consequences of all of this are not borne by citizens in our countries or, for that matter, around the world.”
More recently, Victoria Nuland expressed satisfaction at the demise of the newest of the pipelines. Testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January she told Senator Ted Cruz, “Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”
The source had a much more streetwise view of Biden’s decision to sabotage more than 1500 miles of Gazprom pipeline as winter approached. “Well,” he said, speaking of the President, “I gotta admit the guy has a pair of balls. He said he was going to do it, and he did.”
Asked why he thought the Russians failed to respond, he said cynically, “Maybe they want the capability to do the same things the U.S. did.
“It was a beautiful cover story,” he went on. “Behind it was a covert operation that placed experts in the field and equipment that operated on a covert signal.
“The only flaw was the decision to do it.”
Click here to read the original version of this article published in the author’s personal blog
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
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.
by a Special Correspondent
Sri Lanka Guardian has received a copy of A. Rameez’s (Vice-Chancellor, SEUSL) professorship application (Dated and signed on 04th September 2019). A. Rameez is serving as a professor in Sociology at South Eastern University of Sri Lanka since 05th September 2019.
The readers might be aware that Sri Lanka Guardian published two articles in November 2022 (http://slguardian.org/inside-story-rogue-academics-in-sri-lanka, and http://slguardian.org/inside-story-rogue-academics-in-sri-lanka-part-2) regarding major research fraudulence committed by A. Rameez. Both articles made shocking revelations about Poor Academic Ethics & Integrity by A. Rameez and the Teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) urged the current Vice-Chancellor A. Rameez to step down following the allegations made in Sri Lanka Guardian. But A. Rameez is still holding on to the VC’s chair despite his Academic Integrity being in the graves.
While there is a huge argument regarding A. Rameez still being the Vice Chancellor at SEUSL, the new shocking evidence in his professorship application brings serious questions on his eligibility to be a professor at the institute and to continue to serve as an academic staff member.
A thorough and detailed investigation of his professorship application was carried out. This revealed evidence, showing that a significant number of research publications with various types of research fraudulence authored by A. Rameez have been included in his claim for the professorship.
A critical analysis of the findings from his professorship application is summarized below;
- “Ageing and Health Seeking Behaviour: A Medical Sociological Approach to Nintavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka”. Professor A. Rameez, being the primary and corresponding author has published this abstract in the South Eastern University Arts Research Session 2015 (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/1532). This abstract has been written by A. Rameez and his co-authors by stealing nearly 80% of an abstract of another published journal article related to actual research conducted in Nigeria. (The original article has been published in Vol. 7, No. 1 (2014), pp. 201-210 of International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSN 2248-9010 (Online), ISSN 2250-0715 (Print)). The abstract “Ageing and Health Seeking Behaviour: A Medical Sociological Approach to Nintavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka” co-authored by Rameez .A, Riswan.M and Lumna.N (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/1532) was published in the South Eastern University Arts Research Session 2015.
- A. Rameez has claimed points for the above fraudulent abstract as “Rameez, A. (2015). Aging and Health Seeking Behaviour: Medical Sociological Approach to Ninthavur Divisional Secretariat, Sri Lanka, Proceedings of Fourth International Conference on Emerging Trends in Multidisciplinary Research and Practice, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Oluvil, ,(22nd December, 2015)”.
He has claimed points for this plagiarized abstract as if it was a work of his individual authorship and presentation while concealing the contribution of the other co-authors in his application to become a professor. The sole purpose of this act of malice is to claim the complete marks possible for this publication in his professorship application. This act raises question whether Riswan. M and Lumna. N were really involved in the above mentioned plagiarism or it was Rameez.A alone!
- “Rameez, A. (2019). Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”
This article has been published in a print only journal by A. Rameez in 2019 and he has committed plagiarism by copying the genuine work of Vincent Hazleton and William Kennan (Social capital: reconceptualizing the bottom line; Corporate Communications: An International Journal Volume 5 . Number 2 . 2000. pp. 81-86)
“Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.” is a 100% self-plagiarism by A. Rameez. He had already published the same article in year 2016 in KALAM -International Research Journal, Faculty of Arts and Culture, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Volume X Issue 1, 2016. The print version of Kalam Journal issue is still carrying the same article from page numbers 01-13.
- A. Rameez has published “Rameez, A. (2019). Chronic Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka: Factors and Impacts, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 331-337, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”. More than 70% of this article has been copied from “Sameera Senanayake, Chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka: a glimpse into lives of the affected, Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka 2018, 24 (2) DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v24i2.8158”.
A.Rameez has directly translated the contents of “Sameera Senanayake, Chronic kidney disease in Sri Lanka: a glimpse into lives of the affected, Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka 2018, 24 (2) DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v24i2.8158” from English to Tamil and he has published this as his own scientific work.
- A. Rameez has published “Rameez, A. (2019). A Sociological Analysis on Current Economic Dynamics in Postwar Eastern Sri Lanka, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(01): 349-356, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.”
More than 70% of this article has been stolen from the 4th chapter of a book, Shadows of Conflict in Northern & Eastern Sri Lanka: Challenges & Way Forward written by Anna O’Donnell, Mohamed Ghani Razaak, Markus Kostner, Jeeva Perumpillai-Essex in 2018. The 4th chapter of this book is “Current Economic Dynamics in Postwar Sri Lanka”. A. Rameez has filtered the contents relevant to the Eastern Province carefully from this book chapter and composed his article. But the particular book chapter describes the economy of Northern and Eastern Provinces. Several other errors that may amount to data fabrication have also been observed in the version by A. Rameez.
- A. Rameez has completed his M.Phil studies at University of Peradeniya to attain his promotion and confirmation. The title of the thesis is “The role of social capital in Disaster Management: A study of a Tsunami affected coastal village in Eastern Sri Lanka”. A preliminary check-up of his thesis has revealed word to word plagiarism from page number 32 to 39 appearing as continuous flow of text throughout pages, having been stolen from another journal article by V. Hazleton and W. Kennan.
A.Rameez has several other articles listed in his professorship application to have been published in print-only Journals from Tamil Nadu, India – all by the same publishing company, whose official address is the same as the residential address of one Dr. M. Sadik Batcha, an associate professor of Tamil Studies at Jamal Mohamed College based in Tamil Nadu, India (https://www.jmc.edu/include/department/tamil/staff/profile/Dr.SADIK-10-08-2021.pdf). The Journal of Classical Thamizh and Modern Thamizh published by Raja Publishers from Tamil Nadu, India has published 08 articles authored by A. Rameez during the period of 2018 & 2019. One of the main editorial board members of the Modern Thamizh Research journals is a chair professor of Tamil Studies at the same faculty at SEUSL where A. Rameez is also an academic member. Among these 08 publications, 03 of them had major research fraudulences as described above. The rest of the publications in these journals by A. Rameez has revealed poor standard of academic publications and evidence of fraudulency.
- Rameez, A. (2019). Islamophobia and Increasing Trend of Extremism in Muslim Countries, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 464- 471, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India
- Rameez, A. (2019). Economic Initiatives in Post War Sri Lanka: A Perspective of Northern and Eastern Province, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(02): 186-193, May-June 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Rameez, A. (2019). Conflict Theory of Gumblowics and Sri Lankan Society, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(02): 357-366, May-June 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Rameez, A. (2019). Social Media and Ethnic Violence: A Sociological Perspective of Ampara and Digana Riots, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.07(01): 357-366, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
- Rameez, A. (2019). Cultural Dimension of Eastern Muslims of Sri Lanka: A Sociological Perspective, Modern Thamizh Research, Vol.06(04): 276-294, October, Decemebr 2018, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.
Sri Lanka Guardian still wonders about the review processes followed by these local and international journals, where A. Rameez was able to publish his fraudulent articles. In an era with sophisticated tools to identify plagiarism, the above-mentioned journals have missed smelling this significant fraudulence. Do these journals have the policy to retract all publications from a fraudulent author and declare the action of retraction in public?! This may help to regulate the publication mafia and to establish standards in academic publishing in these peripheries of Sri Lankan academia.
Quite interestingly, A. Rameez has also listed the publications below in his professorship application:
- “Rameez, A. (2018). Sociology of Sri Lankan Muslims: Dealing with different dimensions of Muslim Society, Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 13(07): 1782-1793 (Indexed in Scopus)”. This publication has been listed among one of the five outstanding research papers/ publications in the professorship application by A. Rameez.
- “Rameez, A. (2019). Second Minority in Sri Lanka: Genesis and Current Crisis, International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences Vol. 6(4): 53-58 (Indexed in Emerging Sources of Citation Index (Clarivate Analytics)).”
One may wonder what’s the relevance between the journal names and the titles of the published articles. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences is a publication from Medwell Publications. Sources such as Beall’s List have named this publisher as a Predatory publisher! Similarly, the International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences is listed as a Predatory publisher in Beall’s List. Further analysis is required to confirm the claims of indexing and the truth behind these journal metrics having been claimed.
A professorship application with a composition of fraudulent and predatory publications has been reviewed and evaluated at various levels by many salaried academics in the Sri Lankan state university system. Though this application passed all the checkpoints, many questions now originate regarding the Review and Evaluation processes. Another interesting fact in the application noted was that, Professor M.M.M. Najim serving as the Vice Chancellor of SEUSL in 2019 has recommended the Application and the List of Publications, while the Curriculum Vitae attached by A. Rameez with the professorship application mentions Prof. M.M.M. Najim as one of his Non-Related Referees.
An academic, who has been clever enough to escape various steps of scrutiny is the current vice chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. The damage to the academic standard which can be caused by this vice chancellor can become irreparable at any cost and can affect the quality of undergraduate and postgraduate education. The Senate and Council of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka have a responsibility in these matters. Allowing these substandard applications for further processing and approval is drastic damage to the overall academic standard in the whole university system in Sri Lanka. The focus on increasing the number of professors should be aimed out on bringing about well-qualified professors at this institute. It is a million-dollar question from Sri Lanka Guardian, how did A. Rameez escape all the steps in the evaluation of becoming a professor? Or else, was it a well-orchestrated coercion by an academic underworld to make this man of near zero quality and no integrity a professor in order to make him stand out as a justifiable candidate for the contest for the position of vice chancellor in the very following year?!
Who is responsible to repair these damages already done?! The Registrar or the Senate or the Council of the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka have the authority to carry out complete and thorough investigations on A. Rameez and to revoke the professorship gained through fraudulent publications and false claims. A Vice Chancellor, who should be an exemplary academic member at various calibres, cannot be a role model for fraudulency.
The consequences of the negligence of signalling by academic members of the institution of systematic fraudulence are apparent now. Research fraud is a Professor and Vice-Chancellor. He is being paid many millions of Rupees from the Taxpayers’ money per annum. Imagine the number of millions he can earn through these fraudulent till his retirement! Isn’t A. Rameez accountable for the taxpayers’ money?! A bankrupt country can only become even more bankrupt by producing academically bankrupt outputs by academically and ethically bankrupt academics.
Sri Lanka Guardian is curious to raise these questions at His Excellency the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Hon. Minister of Education and the respected Chairman of the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka:
- Is A. Rameez still eligible to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor?
- Is A. Rameez still eligible to serve as a professor?
- Is A. Rameez still eligible to hold a teaching and academic supervisory position at a government university?
Sri Lanka Guardian has received further evidence regarding another professorship application from the same institution. An academic in the field of Information and Communication Technology has published more than 20 indexed publications in a particular year right before he applies for the professorship. The Scopus ID of the particular academic doesn’t show any of those publications to have been listed as indexed publications under his name! It was further brought to the notice of Sri Lanka Guardian that, the promotion interview of this particular applicant was postponed at the last moment due to the withdrawal of the evaluators, who were supposed to have functioned as the field-related experts, just a few days before the evaluation interview! Notably, this candidate has not completed his Doctoral degree and the provision for this in UGC circulars is being exploited by a few corrupted academics to become professors. Currently, there are a number of professors in this institution who have attained professorships with their Master’s Degrees alone by publishing more than 20 (indexed?) research papers in a year just before they apply for professorship! A prominent example of this nature of professorship can be seen at the Department of Management & Information Technology at SEUSL. This academic member has published more than 20 (? Indexed) publications in a year before his application to become a professor. These few of the corrupted academic individuals at SEUSL can be used as samples for case studies to show; how they are academically corrupted, how they have mishandled the publication ethics, how they have exploited the UGC circulars and how they have mishandled the public fund. Imagine the volume of public funds mishandled by these academics from this institution if there are 11 such professors in this category, for example!
The South Eastern University of Sri Lanka is a national asset. It is run with Taxpayers’ money. The country is currently in an economic downfall. Production of High-Quality Graduates is necessary for the recovery of this country. From a spoiled Chief Executive Officer and from a few corrupted fake professors and unqualified academics, the production of High-Quality Graduates will be a Nightmare! Imagine the damage this does to the perceived quality of the random Sri Lankan graduate in any field of study that’s also available at SEUSL! Imagine the challenges that are to be faced by the graduates of the rest of the universities while abroad when the overall assessment of the quality of Sri Lankan graduates are negatively affected by the products of the academic underworld made of the underqualified professors of SEUSL! Imagine the unfair disadvantage that the poor quality products graduated by the academic underworld comprising the likes of A. Rameez of SEUSL will be putting the graduates of the rest of the Sri Lankan university system, who go through scrutiny and rigour, at when competing in the job market in Sri Lanka, especially in the Sri Lankan public sector, especially in academia! According to the assessment schemes for recruitment to university academic positions, a first-class is a first-class regardless of whether it was conferred by ordinary academics of Sri Lanka or by the academic underworld at SEUSL – you are ahead with 5% additional marks in comparison to a graduate with a second-class-upper-honours.
A rapid rectification with state intervention is the need of the hour within this institution to preserve the Academic Standards of all the graduates being produced from the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. The autonomy provided to universities has been exploited at the best in this institution by the current and previous vice-chancellors in producing substandard professors. If no immediate intervention is done to regulate this Higher Education Authority by the Government of Sri Lanka, it will make the Billions of money allocated for the functioning of SEUSL meaningless and it may be equivalent to throwing all of that money into the river flowing adjacent to this university.
by A Special Correspondent
Sri Lanka Guardian published a news article regarding Two (02) Major Research Fraudulency committed by the current vice chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka on 04th November 2022.
It’s learnt that the Teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) has written a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Professor A. Rameez on 10th November 2022.
Meanwhile, the second article published in Sri Lanka Guardian on 22nd November 2022 brought into light another major 100% Research Fraudulency committed by Professor A. Rameez and his attempt to hide his Research Fraudulency from the E-Repository, SEUSL. The teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) met the Vice Chancellor on 14th November 2022 regarding its above-mentioned letter.
But the second letter written by the Teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) on 24th November 2022 to the Vice Chancellor shows that Prof. A. Rameez has FAILED to Refuse or Clarify the allegations made in the first article published in Sri Lanka Guardian even after the second article was published.
Teacher’s Association of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (TASEU) as a responsible academic union has tried to establish the Academic Integrity of its Institution and its members. But the Vice Chancellor Professor A. Rameez has failed to prove his Academic Integrity by any means of REFUSALS or CLARIFICATION for the allegations in both articles. The silence from the Vice Chancellor has made the dignity and the reputation of the whole academic community into turmoil. It is interesting to notice non-responsiveness from Professor A. Rameez regarding this and no action to step down from the Chief Executive Officer post of a National Higher Education Institution whilst his Academic Integrity in a huge Question.
Sri Lanka Guardian has not received any refusal or clarification about the allegations in both articles till 15th December 2022. But more shockingly it has been learnt that a significant number of Prof. A. Rammez’s publications are identified with various types of Research Fraudulency to date.
In his response to our first part of this series, Prof. A. Rameez, Vice Chancellor, Professor in Sociology, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Oluvil, has said the following in an email. “As I was engaged in an official duty over the last two days, I couldn’t write to you. I know that you have published an article referring to my academic integrity in your website yesterday. You could have sought my clarification on the contents of the article before being published in your website. I just wonder who this investigative journalist is. However, many people are in the pursuit of tarnishing the image of University in the public domain due to various reasons. Hence, he may also have some ulterior motives behind his move. Having said that, I am now consulting people to legally approach this matter.”
Editor’s Note: As far as ethical journalism is concerned, it is our responsibility to publish his response in full without any redactions, stressing that the Vice-Chancellor must have known that questioning the author’s details was indecent. However, we as the editorial board wish to emphasize again that Sri Lanka Guardian always welcome responses from the named parties in this part of the series as well.
Rogue Academics’ Behavioral Intension to Recycle Research Fraudulence: A Study of a duplicate publication of plagiarism by Professor A. Rameez, the Vice Chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka
Less important quote for the sake of looking fancy: “Here he used his talents for deviousness and vitriol in a more socially acceptable way, successfully conducting a major campaign against counterfeiting, even sending several men to their death on the gallows” – Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time.
In part one of this series, the readers were presented with some solid evidence for some serious research fraudulences committed by the current Vice Chancellor of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (SEUSL). Now that we have the audience sufficiently oriented, we will proceed on to gradually expose more and more of the research fraudulences and academic malpractices that are plaguing this institution of higher education, thanks to the likes of intellectual conmen like A. Rameez.
The recent article covered the plagiarism contained in the two publications below by A. Rameez:
- Rameez, A., M. Riswan, and N. Lumna. “Ageing and health seeking behaviour: a medical sociological approach to Nintavur divisional secretariat, Sri Lanka.” (2015).
- Rameez, A. “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis.” (2016).
In this article we focus on some further findings on research fraudulence by A. Rameez, who is serving as a professor in sociology since 2019 and the vice chancellor of SEUSL since 2021.
Evidence in Summary:
- A. Rameez published in 2016 part of his M.Phil. research conducted until 2010. This 9-page long publication text contained stolen text for three pages.
- A. Rameez re-published the same 2016 article, a 100% copy, in a different journal with the same stolen content.
A. Rameez, being the sole author, has published in 2019 an article in Volume 7 Issue No. 1 of the print-only journal “Journal ofClassical Thamizh: A Quarterly International Multilateral Thamizh Journal (Arts & Humanities)” (Tamil name: செம்மொழித் தமிழ்: பன்னாட்டுப் பன்முகத் தமிழ் காலாண்டு ஆய்விதழ் (கலை & மனிதவியல்)) (ISSN: 2321-0737). The title of the article, not-so-surprisingly for us at this stage of our understanding on the workings of academically degenerate small-brains, is “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis”. Interestingly, this 12 pages long article by A. Rameez is the only English-language article in this entire Classical Thamizh journal issue with 278 pages. On a different note, the publisher’s note for authors on their website (link https://rajapublications.wixsite.com/journals/author-centre) requires authors to submit content for 7 pages minimum for each article, yet there exist articles that are only 3 pages long – a possible indication on the compromising nature of the journal itself. This article, or the version-with-zero-changes to be precise, has been published in 2019, about three years after the item 2 covered in our previous article was published. It is worthwhile noting that the content of this article can be considered as a publication of a part of his research conducted for his M.Phil. degree – a degree he was granted after his claims for years-long research study following his defense of a dissertation written based on his research work. It is also interesting to note that A. Rameez published the item 2 covered in our previous article after about 5 years. The relevant timeline is summarized below:
- 2010: A. Rameez graduates with M.Phil. after defending his dissertation
- 2016: A. Rameez publishes an article titled “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis” in KALAM -International Research Journal
- 2019: A. Rameez publishes an article titled “Disasters and social capital in Sri Lanka: a conceptual and theoretical analysis” in Journal of Classical Thamizh: A Quarterly International Multilateral Thamizh Journal (Arts & Humanities)
We find that the KALAM version of the article on social capital is hosted by the electronic repository of SEUSL libraries – link here (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/5251*). However, the Classical Tamil version of the same article is not included in the SEUSL e-repository, nor is it to be found in the Google Scholar and ResearchGate profiles of A. Rameez. However, we get to notice it in the Curriculum Vitae posted at the Faculty of Arts and Culture webpage of SEUSL – link here (https://www.seu.ac.lk/fac/staff/academic/fac/rameez/cv.pdf). This publication is listed as “Rameez, A. (2019). Disasters and Social Capital in Sri Lanka: A Conceptual and Theoretical Analysis, Classical Thamizh, Vol.07(01): 319-330, January-March 2019, Raja Publications, Tamil Nadu, India.” in the CV of A. Rameez.
In conclusion we now have evidence for what’s called ‘self-plagiarism’ in the language employed by UGC to describe various forms of plagiarism; or simply duplicate publication. Of interest is the fact that A. Rameez chose to duplicate-publish an article with three pages of raw plagiarized material! Even more interesting is that he had to publicize his plagiarism when publishing part of his research carried out for his postgraduate degree at two different points in time, once when it was 5 years past his M.Phil. graduation and once again when it was 9 years after his M.Phil. graduation – an evidence for sustained academic bankruptcy and persistent dishonesty of this rogue academic. For those either with a lack of capability to discern such simple mischief or with other forms of inexpressible guilt for similar academic offenses, we feel that there is an explicit need to restate here that the 2019 version of A. Rameez’s publication on Social Capital is a 100% copy of his 2016 version and that both of them contain three-pages-long plagiarized material from one single source (Hazleton & Kennan, 2000) in addition to other plagiarized content.
Is it that A. Rameez had already forgotten that he got his manuscript on social capital already published in the journal KALAM when he thought of publishing his thesis-inspired paper in Classical Thamizh in year 2019? Or was it something else? Perhaps a rush for publications before submitting his application/ self-evaluation-report for professorship in 2019? Or is it that A. Rameez considers that a publication in the Tamilnadu-based print-only journal would be looked at favorably than the version that appeared in the journal run by their own faculty? Rumor has it that A. Rameez got about 07 research articles published in the year 2019 alone by the publishing company of the journal Classical Thamizh, Raja Publications – we can get this count verified if and when SEUSL, a public authority currently headed by A. Rameez with A. Rameez himself functioning as the Designated Officer for Information, gets an opportunity in future to release the information on the list of publications attached along with his application for professorship. One wonders how much it costs to get published in the journal Classical Thamizh, how long it takes to get an article published there, what are the scrutinizing practices – including check for plagiarism – employed by the editors and finally how much of possibly reimbursed public funds had been effectively flushed out of the country as foreign currency in 2019 by A. Rameez!
Acts of self-plagiarizing duplicate publication of articles composed of content stolen from other published scholars can only be done by a Research Fraud who doesn’t have any sort of inhibition for intellectual theft and any sense of fear for losing honor. This leading SEUSL academician in sociology and a self-appointed apostle of research and publication must have well been aware that the Classical Thamizh version of his publication was only going to be available as a printed material and not on the internet (publisher’s website here: http://www.rajapublications.com/) whilst the KALAM version of his publication was to remain in the e-repository of South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (http://ir.lib.seu.ac.lk/handle/123456789/5251), thereby ruling out the possibility for any detection of his act of plagiarism using contemporary software solutions.
The figures below show the 2019 version of the print-only publication by A. Rameez, the content of which once belonged to the copyrighted journal KALAM.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL TEXT OF THIS PART OF THE SERIES
Sri Lanka Guardian has sent a media query to Shehan Karunathilake but he is yet to respond. However, on behalf of the Sri Lankan origins booker prize winner, someone named “SK” has shared a message on social media stating that, “a claim has been made by a journalist in Colombo that the plot of my novel, ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ was ‘stolen’ from a 56-page untitled ‘novella’ that he sent to me in 2011 seeking an author’s endorsement. His claim is both baseless and insulting.” This statement clearly accepted that the accused has received a manuscript from the author, Rajpal Abeynayake, and he has kept it for years.
“I have shared his email and the ‘novella’ manuscript with my lawyers who confirm that the claim of plagiarism is entirely unfounded and that the allegations made are libellous. I have also shared the ‘novella’ with my publishers – who confirm the texts bear no comparison whatsoever with my novel – there are no shared plots, characters nor text – and with the Booker Prize Foundation, so that they may be assured the claims are unfounded,” SK defended the case against Booker Prize Winner.
“We are glad to know that SK still keeps the original manuscript safe and he has given copies of the manuscript not only to his lawyers and publisher but also to Booker Prize Foundation,” said one of the senior lawyers in Colombo. Thus, Sri Lanka Guardian‘s inquiry to the Booker Prize Foundation a few days ago has yet to receive a response.
“It is sad and disappointing that this statement has to be made. This should be a celebratory moment for Sri Lanka and its writers,” SK in his post attempted to earn sympathy.
Meanwhile, responding to the SK’s reaction, Rajpal Abeynayake says that personal insults unfounded in reality are ‘beneath this process’ and that he will not stoop so low as to respond to vicious and obnoxious third parties forwarding statements for some sort of vicarious titillation.
About the statement issued by SK so-called, presumably Shehan Karunatilaka, he says ‘let’s wait and see about the veracity of that, now that he has admitted receiving my manuscript’. Not only does he have my manuscript, but he also has it close at hand and handy to send to others too, says Rajpal.