Adani Group Contractor Under Investigation by the Government

By Consultants Review Team Tuesday, 12 December 2023

The Adani Group has maintained its association with a contentious contracting firm headed by a Taiwanese family, with previously disclosed regulatory records demonstrating how the relationship has evolved in the face of a government investigation and auditor scrutiny. 

Howe Engineering Projects (India) Pvt Ltd. houses the primary activities of PMC Projects Pvt Ltd., which India's government accused in 2014 of being exploited by billionaire Gautam Adani's empire to syphon money offshore. Adani denied all misconduct, and the investigation's findings were overturned by an adjudicating tribunal in 2017. According to court filings, PMC's engineering business was merged with Howe in April 2016. According to recent papers analyzed by Bloomberg, Howe has remained an Adani contractor for some of India's largest ports and railway lines currently under construction.

Deloitte raised red flags regarding payments made by Adani's ports subsidiary to the contracting firm in May due to its inability to determine whether Howe should be labeled a connected party. In August, the accounting firm withdrew as auditor for Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd., citing a lack of broad oversight over the broader conglomerate's books.

Howe focuses on the difficulties shareholders continue to experience in understanding how money flows through Adani entities, over a year after Hindenburg Research accused Adani of fraud. Adani has disputed all of Hindenburg's claims. Hindenburg went after PMC directly, accusing it of being an Adani-related party "used to suck money out of the Adani Group's publicly listed entities." Its report made no mention of Howe.

In an email, an Adani official stated that Howe and PMC are separately controlled and managed firms, are not Adani linked parties, and all transactions are legal. "The commercial and business transactions undertaken by the Adani entities for project management services were entered into in the ordinary course of business at arm's length basis," the statement went on to say.

Hindenburg's charges concerning Adani have been investigated by India's securities regulator. While the agency has yet to release its conclusions, it has stated that its investigations will look into suspected related party transactions, among other things. 

According to records, PMC Projects and Howe are both held by a firm registered in Mauritius, which is owned by Taiwanese entrepreneur Chang Chien-ting. Chang, like his father Chang Chung-ling, has a long history of financial transactions with Adani firms. 

When corporations identify contractors as related parties throughout the accounting process, the payments are scrutinized more closely by auditors and the board. However, because Adani has said that Howe and PMC are unrelated parties, the group is not required to route Howe payments through these additional procedures.


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