‘Conflict Of Interest’: Plea In Supreme Court To Reconstitute Adani Probe Panel

New Delhi: A petition was submitted in the Supreme Court on Monday alleging conflict of interest of three of the six-member panel constituted to investigate Hindenburg Research’s accusations of regulatory failure and breach of laws against Adani Group.

Anamika Jaiswal, one of the petitioners in the Adani-Hindenburg case claimed that the panel includes former State Bank of India chairman OP Bhatt, veteran banker KV Kamath and senior advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan which is not appropriate as there could be possible conflict of interest in the outcome of the probe into allegations by the US short-seller.

The petition stated that Bhatt is presently serving as chairman of Greenko, a leading renewable energy company which is working in close partnership with Adani group since March 2022 for providing energy to Adani Group’s facilities in India, reported Hindustan Times.

“It has also come to the knowledge of the petitioner that 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. Mallya is accused of defrauding banks, including SBI, of US $1.2 billion. It is submitted that Bhatt served as the SBI chairman between 2006 and 2011 when the majority of these loans were advanced to Mallya’s companies,” the petitioner, who is represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, contended, and added that Bhatt himself should have informed the apex court of these facts.

On Kamath, the petitioner said that he was chairman of ICICI Bank from 1996 to 2009 and figured in CBI’s FIR in the ICICI Bank fraud case, in which the bank’s former CEO Chanda Kocchar has been named as a prime accused.

“The CBI alleged that Kochhar and her family received various kickbacks over her tenure in lieu of loans provided to the Videocon group, many of which turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).

Kamath was the bank’s non-executive chairman when some of those loans were approved and a member of the committee that sanctioned/approved the loans,” the petition said.

About another member of the panel senior advocate Sundaresan, Jaiswal went on to state he has been a lawyer representing Adani Group before various bodies, including the SEBI Board.

“In light of above, there is an apprehension that the present expert committee would fail to inspire confidence among the people of the country. It is therefore respectfully prayed, a fresh expert committee may be constituted by this Hon’ble Court with experts from the field of finance, law and stock market with impeccable integrity, and who have no conflict of interest in the outcome of the instant matter,” Jaiswal’s application stated.

The panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge AM Sapre, also comprises former high court judge Justice JP Devdhar and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani.

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