The Congress on Monday alleged that a Chinese national played a “dubious role” in the Adani Group’s activities and asked the government if it was not concerned that the conglomerate may be involving that person in important defence contracts.
The opposition party also claimed that shortly after allegations of corruption appeared, the UPA government took proactive action against AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica (later Leonardo), but on November 14, 2021, the government abruptly lifted its ban on the firm.
It asked why the ban was lifted on a company accused of bribery and corruption when the case is still pending.
The Congress is persisting with its attack on the government weeks after Adani Group stocks took a beating on the bourses after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation.
The Gautam Adani-led group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements.
Posing a set of three questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the party’s “Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun” series, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said his queries relate to the “dubious role” played in the Adani Group’s activities by the Chinese national Chang Chung-Ling.
“As we pointed out February 4, Chang Chung-Ling is alleged to be involved in activities such as smuggling petroleum products to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions. Chang’s Adani links are extremely close: in 2005, he declared the same residential address in Singapore as Vinod Adani and his Singapore-based firm Gudami International was named by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in its investigation into the Adani Group’s diamond trading scam in 2013,” Ramesh claimed.
Reportedly, Gudami was named in the first Enforcement Directorate (ED) charge sheet against the prime accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam, Gautam Khaitan, in 2014 and in a supplementary charge sheet against the co-accused, Rajiv Saxena, in 2017, he alleged.
“Yet the firm’s name mysteriously disappeared from the third ED charge sheet in 2018,” he said.
In his statement addressed to the PM, Ramesh questioned the alleged “clean chit to the Adanis’ close colleague” in the AgustaWestland scam.
“Is this why the investigation has lingered for so many years? Are you not concerned that the Adanis may be involving a Chinese national in important defence contracts?” Ramesh said in his statement which was part of a sub-series on the allegations against Adani — “Dikh Raha Hai Vinod”.
As part of another poser, Ramesh said shortly after allegations of corruption appeared, the UPA government took proactive action against AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica (later Leonardo).
“It started a Central Bureau of Investigation enquiry on February 12, 2013, terminated the helicopter contract on January 1, 2014 and encashed bank guarantees on January 15, 2014, in India and on May 23, 2014 in Italy. Leonardo was barred from future Indian military tenders on August 26, 2014,” Ramesh said.
“Yet on November 14, 2021, the government abruptly lifted its ban. Why, with the case still pending, have you lifted the ban on a company accused of bribery and corruption? Are you again trying to facilitate the Adani Group’s defence sector activities by misusing government agencies?” the Congress general secretary claimed.
He pointed out that the ban on Leonardo was lifted shortly after Prime Minister Modi’s October 29, 2021 meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
“To pave the way for a successful meeting, you also dropped all the charges against the two Italian Marines accused of killing Indian fishermen. Is your desire for approval by foreign leaders stronger than your desire to investigate corruption in Indian defence deals or to do justice to Indian citizens?” Ramesh said.
Will we now see the Adani Group getting involved in deals with Italian defence companies, he asked.