NEW DELHI: An application has been filed in the Supreme Court for a direction to set up a fresh experts committee to probe against Adani group to look into allegations made following January 24 Hindenburg report, referring to conflict of interest by members of the panel formed by the top court.
Anamika Jaiswal, who has filed a PIL in the matter, filed the fresh plea, claiming conflict of interest between former SBI chairman O P Bhat, former ICICI chairman M V Kamath and advocate Somashekhar Sundaresan and Adani group.
"There is an apprehension that the present expert committee would fail to inspire confidence among the people of the country. A fresh expert committee may be constituted by this court with experts from field of finance, law and stock market with impeccable integrity with no conflict of interest," the plea said.
The committee was formed by the Supreme Court by nominating its members. Retired SC judge, Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre headed it.
On March 02, 2023, the apex court, acting on a batch of petitions filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari and others, set up the expert committee and directed it to investigate inter alia the allegations made against the Adani Group in the Hindenburg Report and whether there was a regulatory failure in the same.
The committee also consisted of Justice J P Devadhar, and co founder Infosys, Nandan Nilekani.
The applicant said Bhatt is 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. The said partnership came to be entered right before an energy deal in Davos between Andhra Pradesh Government and three energy companies including Greenko and Adani, showing clear conflict of interest.
The plea also claimed 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. Bhatt served as the SBI chairman between 2006 and 2011 when the majority of these loans were advanced to Mallya's companies. CBI has alleged that the SBI-led consortium of lenders did not conduct any 'forensic audit' despite being aware of the 'poor financial health' of Mallya's companies," it claimed.
Talking about Kamath, the applicant said, he was the chairman of ICICI Bank from 1996 to 2009, figured in CBI FIR in the ICICI Bank fraud case.
"The case relates to Chanda Kocchar who served as the Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank from 2009 to 2018. The CBI alleged that she 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 non-executive chairman of the bank when some of those loans were approved and a member of the committee that sanctioned/approved the loans," she claimed.
With regard to another member Sundaresan, the applicant alleged, has been a lawyer representing Adani before various forums including the SEBI Board.
The panel, in its report filed in May, 2023, said Hindenburg report contained no new data but was substantially a collection of inferences from data in the public domain.