US regulators are probing Adani Group — the India-based conglomerate headed by embattled billionaire Gautam Adani — after a damning short seller’s report accused the company of using offshore corporations to manipulate its share prices.
Investment research firm Hindenburg Research published a scathing report earlier this year that claims “Adani Group has engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades.”
The New York-based investigative group also raised concerns about Adani Group’s high debt, claiming it wiped more than $11 billion in investor wealth.
In the months following the report, US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY, issued subpoenas to institutional investors with large holdings, a person familiar with the private probe told Bloomberg.
The anonymous person said the inquiries were focused on what Adani Group told American investors, the outlet reported.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is also reportedly investigating Adani Group, which is led by chief executive Adani, the 19th richest man in the world with a $61.4 billion fortune, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Requesting information from Adani Group’s investors does not mean US regulators will file criminal or civil proceedings.
Enforcement agencies often open inquiries that don’t lead to legal action, Bloomberg reported.
A spokesperson for Adani Group told the outlet the company was not aware of any subpoenas to investors.
Adani Group reported nearly $117 billion in revenue in 2022, and has a portfolio of companies that spans airports, maritime ports, coal, renewable energy and more.
Hindenburg Research’s report said it found 38 shell entities operated out of the island of Mauritius, plus others in Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and many Caribbean Islands that appear to be controlled by Adani’s elder brother, Vinod, or close associates.
“Many of the Vinod Adani-associated entities have no obvious signs of operations, including no reported employees, no independent addresses or phone numbers and no meaningful online presence. Despite this, they have collectively moved billions of dollars into Indian Adani publicly listed and private entities, often without required disclosure of the related party nature of the deals,” Hindenburg Research claimed.
The researcher identified Vinod as “an elusive figure” that has “regularly been found at the center of the government’s investigations into Adani for his alleged role in managing a network of offshore entities used to facilitate fraud.”
The report also included 88 questions for Adani.
“If Gautam Adani truly embraces transparency, as he claims, they should be easy questions to answer. We look forward to Adani’s response,” the notice concluded.
Adani then issued a 413-page response that began by calling Hindenburg Research workers the “Madoffs of Manhattan,” likening them to Bernie Madoff, a convicted fraudster for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
Adani Group also rejected Hindenburg Research’s allegations, calling its report a “calculated attack on India.”
An SEC spokesperson told The Post that the agency “does not comment on the existence or nonexistence of a possible investigation.”
Representatives for Adani Group did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Adani Group and its boss are reportedly facing a similar regulatory probe in its home country, according to Bloomberg.
The news comes the day after Adani’s longtime friend and India’s leader, Narenda Modi, was welcomed to the White House by President Biden and an over-the-top spectacle on Thursday.
Adani and Modi met in 2002 in the prime minister’s hometown of Gujarat, where Adani Group is based, and developed a cozy relationship in the years since.
After Hindenburg Research’s fraud claims were first published in late January, Adani Group’s stock was crippled, and Adani was stripped of his crown as the world’s No. 3 richest man.
As of premarket trading on Friday, Adani Group’s share price sat at $2,229 — down more than 7% from yesterday and a nearly 42% drop year-to-date.