The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a criminal case against Adani Enterprises Ltd for colluding with officials of the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF) to unfairly win a contract for supplying coal to an Andhra Pradesh government-owned company.
The agency named former NCCF chairman Virender Singh, its then managing director G.P. Gupta and former senior adviser S.C. Singhal in the first information report (FIR). Adani Enterprises and the NCCF officials were booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
CBI’s latest move comes amid mounting scrutiny on Adani’s Carmichael project in Australia from Greta Thunberg and other environmental activists. The project in the Galilee Basin of Queensland is facing fresh attacks from environmentalists as Australia suffers catastrophic bushfires that have killed 28 people and caused massive devastation to wildlife and the environment.
In the FIR, India’s federal investigation agency alleged that Singh and Gupta favoured Ahmedabad-based Adani Enterprises in getting the contract when Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corp. Ltd floated the tender in 2010 for the supply of 600,000 tonnes of coal.
The probe agency also alleged that Adani Enterprises used a proxy company to get the supply contract. NCCF had received bids from six companies—Adani Enterprises, Maheswari Brothers Coal Ltd, Vyom Trade Links Pvt. Ltd, Swarna Projects Pvt. Ltd, Gupta Coal India Ltd and Kyori Oremin Ltd.
“Post tender negotiation was done by senior officials of NCCF to give undue favour to Adani Enterprises Ltd despite it not qualifying the tender (terms)," the agency’s FIR said. “Instead of cancelling the bid of Adani Enterprises Ltd, the senior management of NCCF conveyed the offer margin to the company through one of its representatives, Munish Sehgal, who was sitting in the NCCF head office. It is prima facie evident that when the bids were being processed at the NCCF head office in Delhi, a representative of Adani Enterprises was informed regarding their imminent rejection due to non-submission of NCCF margin, and also that MBCL (Maheswari Brothers), the eligible bidder, quoted 2.25% margin."
CBI, which is likely to soon issue summons to those named in the FIR, has further alleged that Adani Enterprises gave an unsecured loan of ₹16.81 crore to Vyom Trade Links in 2008-09. Bank guarantees of Adani Enterprises and Vyom Trade Links were also issued by “the same branch of the State Bank of India and at the same time".
An Adani Enterprises spokesperson said the subject matter is an “old one", adding that the company has complied with the process, formalities and relevant laws for the coal supply.
“The company has not done anything wrong in supply of coal. It’s a preliminary investigation report only. The company shall respond to the same and shall also put forth the factual position to the authority," the spokesperson added.