Adani-Hindenburg case | Petitioner alleges links between SC’s expert committee members and Adani, wants fresh panel

The petitioner has contended that O.P. Bhatt, a former chairman of SBI who is a part of the SC appointed committee of experts, was presently working as the Chairman of Greenko, a leading renewable energy company “working in a close partnership with Adani Groups since 2002”

September 18, 2023 05:17 pm | Updated 07:34 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Supreme Court of India. File

Supreme Court of India. File | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

A petitioner in the Adani-Hindenburg case on Monday (September 18) urged the Supreme Court to constitute a fresh committee of experts, saying the current one headed by a former apex court judge, Justice A.M. Sapre, is hit by “conflict of interest”.

The Justice Sapre Committee was constituted by the Supreme Court on March 2 to investigate the causal factors and existence, if any, of regulatory failure which led to investors losing crores due to volatility in the securities market following Hindenburg Research’s report accusing the Adani Group of manipulation of share prices and account fraud.

Watch | What is the Adani-Hindenburg saga all about?

The members of the expert committee included former chairman of the State Bank of India O.P. Bhatt, retired Bombay High Court judge Justice J.P. Devadhar, former chief of the New Development Bank of BRIC countries K.V. Kamath, co-founder of Infosys Nandan Nilekani and securities expert and lawyer Somasekhar Sundaresan.

The expert committee had come out with a stinging criticism of the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in its report, saying the market regulator had “drawn a blank” in its probe of the Adani-Hindenburg allegations, and was in a “chicken-and-egg situation” in its investigation into the “ownership” of 13 overseas entities, including 12 Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs).

The petitioner, Anamika Jaiswal, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Cheryl D’Souza, has now contended that Mr. Bhatt, a former chairman of State Bank of India, was presently working as the Chairman of Greenko, a leading renewable energy company.

“Since March 2022, Greenko and Adani Group are working in a close partnership to provide energy to Adani Groups facilities in India… O.P. Bhatt was examined by the CBI in March 2018 in a case of alleged wrongdoing in disbursing loans to the former liquor baron and fugitive economic offender, Vijay Mallya,” the application said.

It said Mr. Kamath, who was the chairman of ICICI Bank from 1996 to 2009, had “figured in CBI FIR in the ICICI Bank fraud case”.

On Mr. Sundaresan, the application submitted that he had been “a lawyer representing Adani before various forums including the SEBI Board”.

Ms. Jaiswal, in her application, urged the apex court to constitute a fresh expert committee consisting of experts from the field of finance, law and stock market. She said the members should have “impeccable integrity and no conflict of interest”.

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