Lawyers at EJA ready to brief NAIF Board of risks of $1B Adani rail loan
A detailed legal research brief by Environmental Justice Australia, being launched today, reveals Indian based Adani Group’s disastrous track record overseas, including illegal dealings, bribery, environmental and social devastation and allegations of corruption, fraud and money laundering. The Adani Brief puts Australian governments and potential financiers on notice that backing the Carmichael mine and rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin may expose them to financial and reputational risks.
The Adani Brief represents months of international detective work by EJA, a not-for-profit legal practice, and Earthjustice, a US-based not-for-profit environmental law organization, which examined over a hundred court documents as part of this effort.
In light of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) currently considering a controversial $1 billion subsidised loan for Adani’s rail project to carry coal to Abbot Point, EJA has written to NAIF board members offering to brief them on the evidence in The Adani Brief.
EJA lawyer and report author Ariane Wilkinson said, “The terrible international track record of the Adani Group raises serious questions about whether they should be allowed to do business in Australia. Their mode of operation also suggests risks which State and Federal governments and potential financiers cannot afford to ignore.
“Entities within the Adani Group of companies have a record of bribery, illegal exports and illegal land clearing. Investigations for fraudulent activities typical of trade-based money laundering are currently underway in India.
“The findings raise urgent questions about whether regulators can trust Adani will operate responsibly in Australia while building one of the largest coal mines in the world, backed by $1 billion of taxpayers’ funds allocated from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for rail.”
Key report findings are found in a short overview below, including these revelations not so far reported in Australia:
- sinking of a ship carrying Adani coal which saw a serious oil and coal spill off Mumbai’s coast, damaging tourism, polluting the marine environment and attracting a AU$975,000 court fine
- constructing Hajira Port without approval, destroying habitat, claiming land and blocking access to fishing communities, which resulted in a court order to pay AU$4.8 million for compensation and restoration
- long-running investigations into tax evasion and money laundering while trading in diamonds and gold jewellery.
“The research uncovers a pattern of Adani Group companies consistently flouting laws, regulations and disclosure requirements while operating overseas. Their record of numerous serious legal breaches, with adverse consequences for the environment and local people, is well documented.
“The Adani Group’s worrying approach to doing business is not peculiar to India. Just for a start, an Australian court action has proven the amount of jobs and royalties Adani declares will flow from their proposed project is completely incorrect. Despite these revelations in court, Adani has continued to mislead the Australian public with these false job numbers.
“The research brief also details how Adani Mining failed to reveal to the Federal Environment Department that Adani Mining’s current Australian CEO was in charge of a Zambian copper mine when it polluted a major river in 2010, despite a specific request asking Adani Mining to provide that type of information about the environmental history of Adani’s executive officers before approving the Carmichael mine and rail project.
“The confusing, opaque corporate structure of the Adani Group, with 13 of the 26 Adani subsidiaries registered in Australia ultimately owned by a Cayman Islands entity, should trigger extra judicious scrutiny by regulators and potential financiers.
“The ownership structure of Abbot Point coal port is also extremely unclear, making it difficult for financial backers to assess the risks of providing security for loans. These risks are ultimately borne by lenders and their shareholders,” Ms Wilkinson said.
US-based Earthjustice’s Australian lawyer, Noni Austin, who conducted research into the Adani Group’s conduct in India, said: “The environmental record of companies within the Adani Group in India is extremely troubling.
“This evidence raises serious questions about Adani Group companies’ commitment to environmental protection and the health and welfare of local communities, and to compliance with laws intended to assure such protection. This should be of concern to governments and financiers in relation to the Adani Group’s proposals in Australia,” Ms Austin said.
Relevant photos available for download here.