Aussie civil rights group calls on India's stock exchanges to take action against Adani Ports for 'factually misleading' stakeholders
- The Australian Centre of International Justice (ACIJ) and activist group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) have called on India's stock exchanges to take regulatory action against
Adani Ports, led by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.
- According to them, the company is ‘factually misleading’ stakeholders by failing to disclose its association with the Myanmar military.
- Meanwhile, Adani Ports saw its share price skyrocket by nearly 5% on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) as well as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
AdvertisementIndian billionaire Gautam Adani seems to be unable to get away from the controversy of allegedly having close ties with the Myanmar military — which is now ruling the country after a coup — even after multiple denials.
The Australian Centre of International Justice ( ACIJ) and activist group Justice for Myanmar (JFM) have called on the India’s stock exchanges to take regulatory action against his company, Adani Ports, for failing to disclose ties with the military junta.
Meanwhile, Adani Ports’ — the largest private port operator in India — shares rallied by 4.43% on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and 4.77% on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on April 1.
Gautam Adani, the chairman and managing director of the Adani Group, has seen his wealth skyrocket in 2021. His net worth has grown more than even Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Tesla’s Elon Musk this year.
The civil rights organisation claims that the statement released by Adani Ports on March 31 is ‘factually misleading’. The issue centres around how the company is linked to the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).
“Adani Ports’ direct business with MEC exposes shareholders to major international law, corruption and reputational risks,” wrote ACIJ in its press release on April 1.
Business Insider India has reached out to Adani Ports for a comment on the issue but is yet to receive a response.
Why is Adani Ports’ association with MEC a concern of civil rights?
The MEC is controlled by Myanmar’s armed forces that have been accused by the United Nations (UN) of committing genocide and crimes against humanity.
More than 500 people have been killed in the Myanmar military’s brutal crackdown on protests against its coup to oust civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
AdvertisementMoreover, the US hit the MEC with sanctions last week citing that the MEC is ‘a vital financial lifeline for the military junta’.
According to the ACIJ and JFM, documents show that Adani Ports will pay up to $30 million in land lease fees for the project to the MEC. Moreover, documents filed with Myanmar’s corporate regulator show Adani bringing in $141 million ‘capital in cash and $148 million ‘capital in kind’ for the project as per ABC Australia’s investigation.
However, Adani Ports’ maintains that the facts are being misrepresented.
The timeline of accusations against Adani Ports — and subsequent denials
As early as August 2018, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a public warning to foreign corporations not to do business with the MEC.
However, 10 months later, on 23 May 2019, Adani Ports entered into a ‘build, operate, transfer’ (BOT) agreement with the entity as per ACIJ’s report. The deal entails Adani Ports’ Myanmar subsidiary — the Adani Yangon International Terminal Company — constructing a container port in Yangon on MEC’s military-owned land.
Come September 2019, a report by UNHRC listed out the corporations involved in operations with the MEC. Many began to review their business operations and disengaged from ongoing projects. Meanwhile, Adani Ports remained silent.
But, as pressure built up, Adani Ports categorically denied engaging with Myanmar’s military leadership in order to facilitate its project in the country in February earlier this year. However, photographic and video evidence sourced by ABC Australia earlier this week contradicts those claims.
Adani Ports claims that the visit was a ‘cultural courtesy’ and a ‘customary practice’. “Much like our global peers, we are watching the situation in Myanmar carefully and will engage with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to seek their advice on the way forward,” said the company's spokesperson in a statement on March 31.
Adani’s port projects in Australia and Tamil Nadu have also received criticism from activist groups, politicians and locals over environmental concerns.
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