A US research firm’s allegations of fraud against billionaire Gautam Adani’s business empire have sparked a political row in India.
On Friday, opposition leaders halted parliamentary business for a second day in a row by calling for a probe into the allegations.
The research company last week accused Adani Group companies of stock manipulation and financial fraud, which caused its shares to drop precipitously.
The group has refuted the charges.
The opposition leaders’ demand for an investigation caused the morning proceedings in both houses of India’s parliament to be suspended on Friday.
They have demanded the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a panel under the supervision of the Supreme Court to look into the accusations made against the company and the risk to Indian investors from the decline in the value of the Adani Company’s stock.
The Adani Group’s companies have seen $108bn wiped off their market value over the past few days after US-based investment firm Hindenburg Research published a report accusing it of decades of “brazen” stock manipulation and accounting fraud.
The organization has denied the accusations, calling them an “attack on India,” and characterized them as vicious and inaccurate. The decline in Adani stock, however, has not been halted by the response.
The founder, Gautam Adani, is no longer among the top 10 richest people in the world.
With a net worth of $74.7 billion, Mr. Adani is currently the 15th richest person in the world, according to the Forbes real-time billionaires list. Last week, he was third on the list.
One of India’s largest enterprises, Adani Group, is managed by a billionaire. Adani Enterprises, the company’s flagship, operates in a variety of sectors, including commodities trading, airports, utilities, and renewable energy.
Following the government’s rejection of the opposition’s requests to suspend business to discuss the Adani issue, opposition legislators disrupted parliamentary proceedings on Thursday as well.
“There should also be day-to-day reporting of the investigation on the issue,” Mallikarjun Kharge, chief of the main opposition Congress party, said.
The State Bank of India (SBI), a government-owned bank, and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), a government-owned insurance company, have both been charged by Congress with being coerced into investing in the enterprise, endangering the savings of citizens.
But on Friday, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, quoting earlier statements made by SBI and LIC, told a news channel that the exposure of the two companies to the Adani group was “well within the permissible limits”.
She also said that India’s financial market was “well-regulated” and that investor confidence would not be shaken.
Additionally, Congress has declared plans to stage statewide demonstrations on Monday outside the offices of Adani Group enterprises, nationalized banks, and government agencies.
Party leader KC Venugopal has accused the BJP-led government of “using common people’s money to support their closest friends”.
Mr. Adani, who is believed to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has long been the target of accusations from opposition lawmakers that he has benefitted from his connections to the political system, which he vigorously refutes.