Updated January 3rd, 2024 at 21:43 IST

'Adani-Hindenburg', short-seller robbed retail investors for self gains, say experts

Short seller's interests that caused retail investor major losses need to be probed.

Reported by: Saqib Malik
Supreme Court directs SEBI to conclude Adani-Hindenburg probe within three months | Image:Republic World

Real focus is retail investor: As the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to transfer investigation in the Adani-Hindenburg case from capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to  Special Investigation Team (SIT) or the Central Bureau of Investigation, legal experts said they were hopeful that the apex court would completely dismissed the petitions. Republic Business underlines what it means for the Adani Group whose Chairman's net worth witnessed major erosion after the Hindenburg report surfaced. The tumultuous buzz after the US-based short-seller's report, lead to a major fall in share prices of the Adani Group, which also witnessed some of its important deals falling through. This led to a lose of nearly 34 per cent of the Adani Group chief's net worth, which stood at over $110 billion before the Hindenburg report came to the fore. Experts, with whom Republic Business spoke to, underlined the a need to probe a short seller's personal interests leading to huge losses for the retail investors. 

Probe short-term gains: Mukul Rohatgi 

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Mukul Rohatgi hailed the Supreme Court  judgement on the bunch of petitions seeking investigation into allegations of accounting fraud and stock manipulation against Adani Group companies by US short-seller Hindenburg Research in January 2023. Speaking exclusively to Arnab Goswami,  Republic Network’s Editor-in-Chief, Rohatgi called the PILs  as “publicity interest litigations”, adding that the apex court could have dismissed the petition in its entirety and levied penalties on the frivolous PILs. 



"As far as court judgement is concerned, it  clearly said it does not warrant any criminal proceeding including the CBI. The court has trusted SEBI to do its own investigation.  According to me, the exoneration of the Adani Group that it did nothing wrong and the fact that Hindenburg is a malicious body with its own interests has been clearly spelled out today," Rohatgi said. 
Rohatgi added, "If they (Adani Group) would have been guilty of some misdemeanour, the court would have ordered some criminal proceedings. 

The Hindenburg report has come from abroad and no one has seen it. We are participating in the SEBI probe and the market regulator is a trusted authority, Rohatgi added. Rohatgi said the real focus should be on shareholders including retail investors who lost money due to personal interests of a short-seller. “How will that recompense come across? It needs to be found out who are the people who made these windfalls,” Rohatgi quipped. Rohatgi said various political parties are guilty of hijacking the market-sensitive issues and playing with the interest of a common investor. He said it needs to be proved as to which side of the spectrum made short-term gains in the entire Hindenburg row. 


Regulator's resilience validated: Ex-SEBI officer  

Former SEBI officer Sumit Agrawal told Republic Business that the SC ruling signifies a substantial validation not just for the Adani Group but also for the capital market regulator SEBI. "The judgment emphasises the continued jurisdiction of SEBI, rejecting any transfer of the investigation to SIT and discrediting reliance on the OCCRP report without proper verification. It dismisses claims of conflict of interest within the Expert Committee and questions the credibility of relying on external sources like newspaper reports to challenge the statutory regulator," said Agrwal, who is also the founder at Regstreet Law Advisors.  


Image credit: Unsplash 

Allegations against Expert Committee members are deemed unsubstantiated, and relying on the DRI letter is considered misconceived, he said. Moreover, the court finds no valid grounds to direct SEBI to revoke its amendments on FPI and LODR regulations, asserting their robustness. Importantly, the judgment underscores a broader message—acknowledging the Supreme Court's call for action against the publishers of the Hindenburg Report or short sellers, should they be found violative, demonstrating a commitment to accountability and regulatory integrity, the ex-SEBI officer added.


SEBI purview vital: ex-Additional Solicitor General    

Former Additional Solicitor General, Sidharth Luthra said the SC judgment had proved that the law and SEBI cannot be doubted. "Since the Supreme Court has taken a view that the report on 20 out of 24 transactions is clear, I think it is definitely a clean chit for Adanis. That is the first takeaway and the second takeaway, which is more important for our country and also as a whole, is that the SEBI regulations have been held to be a strong and robust system," said Luthra, told reporters at the apex court premises.


Luthra said as the apex court had given a timeframe of three months for SEBI to investigate and not asking for an SIT probe, was the key takeaway. "The court has raised a concern about people relying on reports of newspaper articles and that one should not be rushing to a court with a PIL, because it is an important jurisdiction for this country," Luthra said. He said there was no ground to transfer the investigation from SEBI to SIT.



Published January 3rd, 2024 at 20:39 IST