Adani Group’s port deal worth 52 million USD with Myanmar military-controlled company has come to a standstill owing to the sanctions by the United States over human rights violations.
- The IMF sent $350 million in cash to the Myanmar government just days before the military coup as part of an emergency aid package to help the country tackle the COVID-19 pandemic
- Violent protests were triggered in Myanmar when the Myanmar military’s seized power in February
- The Myanmar military regime has seized the bank accounts of billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation (OSF) for fomenting unrest in the country by funding massive protests
- Myanmar conglomerate involved in an Adani Ports deal had the sanctions imposed by the US
- Australian Future Fund has decided not to surrender its holdings in Adani Ports owing to this issue
- The scale of Adani’s cooperation with the junta over a proposed container port in Yangon is revealed by some leaked documents, as mentioned in a report (obtained by the ABC) by human rights lawyers and activists
Adani Ports claimed last month that it had never “engaged with military leadership” in Myanmar. However, on the contrary, the video and photos show Adani Ports’ boss met with the junta’s top general in 2019.
Australian government may have to dump its investment in Adani Ports worth $3.2 million owing to the US government’s sanctions against the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).
Adani Ports also own North Queensland operations linked to the Carmichael mine.
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The leaked documents indicate that Adani’s subsidiary has paid $US30 million to MEC as “land lease fees”. These documents were leaked from the Yangon Region Investment Commission.
Report author and ACIJ human rights lawyer Rawan Arraf said the documents were leaked “shortly after the violent February 1 coup perpetrated by senior general Min Aung Hlaing and his cartel of the Myanmar military”.
“What these documents reveal in particular is the amount that was provided to the MEC, a Myanmar military conglomerate that is controlled and owned by the Myanmar military [which] stands credibly accused and is being investigated at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even in the case of the crimes against the Rohingya, genocide,” she told the ABC.
“The concern here — as has been publicly stated by the United Nations fact-finding mission — is that these military conglomerates provide essential financial revenue streams direct to the Myanmar military.”
“Adani has been put on notice several times publicly, and they’ve refused to disengage from their Myanmar deal with [MEC] and that’s a real problem.”
“This money indirectly could be financing the Myanmar military to conduct international crimes.”
Mr Chris Sidoti, an Australian lawyer, told the ABC, the ACIJ and JFM report established links between the Myanmar military and a company “intimately involved in the Carmichael coal project in Queensland”.
“The question for Australia and Australians is whether we want to be hosting a company that is contributing to the enrichment of the Myanmar military,” he said.
“The question for investors in Adani is whether they want to fund the operations of the Myanmar military, because that is what they are doing indirectly by investing in Adani.
“This is a question especially for sovereign wealth funds and pension funds that should have a highly ethical basis for their investment decisions.”
A spokeswoman for Adani Ports said the company was “watching the situation in Myanmar carefully and will engage with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to seek their advice on the way forward”.
She said the Yangon International Terminal project was “fully owned and developed by” the company.
“It is an independent container terminal with no joint venture partners.”
The Adani Group issued a statement last year denying its engagement with military leaders following Myanmar’s coup.
“We categorically deny having engaged with military leadership while receiving this approval or thereafter,” it said.
However, it can be seen in a video (uploaded on the Myanmar military’s official YouTube channel) that Adani Ports chief executive Karan Adani is exchanging with the top general Min Aung Hlaing, who is an accused war criminal, in late July 2019.
“This is obviously directly inconsistent with the statement provided by Adani Ports and the Adani Group earlier this year,” said Ms Arraf, the ACIJ human rights lawyer.
She said credible allegations of crimes against humanity by Min Aung Hlaing were “publicly available information, and foreign corporations like Adani Ports would have known about this information, it would have been absolutely clear to them”.
As per the Adani Ports spokeswoman, Indian government hosted the general’s visit and its officials accompanied him to Mundra Port, which was “only one location out of multiple sites on this visit”.
“Mementos were exchanged as a cultural courtesy, which is customary practice,” the statement read.
In December, all the American-based assets of Min Aung Hlaing were freezed by the US and all the transactions between him and anyone in the US were criminalised.
Adani Ports owns the Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen, and a rail company to haul coal from the controversial Carmichael mine.
Documents filed with Myanmar’s corporate regulator show Adani is bringing in US$148 million in “capital in-kind” and US$141 million in “capital in-cash” for the project.
The US hit MEC with sanctions last week, targeting what the State Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control director Andrea Gacki said was “a vital financial lifeline for the military junta”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the sanctions were “the most significant action to date to impose costs on the military regime”.
At least 114 people (including children) were killed on Saturday in Myanmar. It is said to be one of the bloodiest days Myanmar has experienced since the coup.
That prompted the Chief of the Australian Defence Force to join the military heads of 11 other nations in condemning the Myanmar junta.
A spokeswoman for the Future Fund told the ABC – “We are aware of the matter but have no plans to divest the holding in Adani.”
“Where the federal government applies sanctions, the Future Fund does – as you would expect – observe such measures.”
Ms Arraf said ACIJ had “no confidence in Adani Ports that they will respond to growing action against MEC and its military controllers”.
“That’s why we’re calling on investors, shareholders, governments all around the world to take action against Adani Ports, because of their consistent refusal to disengage with the MEC in Myanmar,” she said.
“We’re extremely disappointed with the response of the Future Fund.”
She said if Adani were a US company it would now be “moving very quickly to review and suspend their operations because of the very serious implications that they could be in violations of sanctions laws”.