29 Jul 2021
Four Mauritius-based funds that have attracted attention for parking almost all their money in companies controlled by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani have a history of investing in firms which ended up defaulting or were investigated for wrongdoing.
Before they put about 90% of their $6.9 billion under management in the Adani empire, the funds — Elara India Opportunities Fund, Cresta Fund, Albula Investment Fund and APMS Investment Fund — held significant stakes in two companies whose founders fled India and have since been probed for money laundering, another that went bankrupt, and a fourth that was liquidated after sparring with the Ethiopian government.
Because the funds are registered in the tax haven of Mauritius, their ownership structure is opaque. Cresta, Albula and Elara have been subject to at least one probe for alleged round-tripping, Firstpost website reported in 2018. This is a process illegal under Indian rules where money is transferred typically to a shell company before being returned, giving the impression the funds originate from a clean source. Indian authorities struggled to identify who ultimately controls the money, according to the report.
Some lawmakers are now seeking an investigation into whether the Mauritius funds are being used as a shell for Adani’s own money. Mahua Moitra, an opposition lawmaker and former investment banker, questioned the ultimate ownership of the funds in parliament last week, saying that the information should be public given the Adani group holds stakes in strategic Indian infrastructure like ports, airports and power plants.
“We want to know whose money is it,” Moitra said in a text message to Bloomberg News. “If it is Adani’s money, then minority shareholders are being screwed. If it is not, then which foreign actors have so much say in our strategic assets?”
By Anurag Kotoky, Bloomberg, 28th July
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