Potentially controversial owners of Adani stock have been identified in a new investigation, dealing the Indian conglomerate a fresh blow after short-seller Hindenburg Research alleged the group engaged in corporate fraud and stock price manipulation. 

Documents obtained by staff at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the United Arab Emirates and Chang Chung-Ling from Taiwan spent years trading hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Adani Group stock, the global network of investigative journalists alleged on Thursday in a highly-anticipated report.

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The two men have long-time business ties to the Adani family and have served as directors and shareholders in Adani Group companies, the OCCRP said on its website — along with firms associated with Vinod Adani, who is the brother of the conglomerate’s founder, billionaire Gautam Adani. 

The documents were corroborated by people with direct knowledge of the Adani Group’s businesses and public records from multiple countries, the OCCRP said, and show how hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in publicly traded Adani stock through opaque investment funds based in Mauritius.

“The documents show that, through the Mauritius funds, they spent years buying and selling Adani stock through offshore structures that obscured their involvement — and made considerable profits in the process,” the OCCRP found. “They also show that the management company in charge of their investments paid a Vinod Adani company to advise them in their investments.”

An Adani Group representative didn’t have any immediate comment on Thursday morning. 

The Financial Times and The Guardian also reported on the documents, which were shared with them by the OCCRP earlier. 

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“Adani Group shares will likely consolidate until more clarity emerges on the ownership structure,” said Nitin Chanduka, a strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence.

The OCCRP investigation is yet another broadside against the ports-to-power conglomerate, which has been firefighting the allegations of wide-ranging corporate malfeasance made in January. That Hindenburg report prompted a probe by Indian regulators and wiped out more than $150 billion in market value from Adani’s listed companies at one point. The conglomerate has denied any wrong doing. 

Adani group company shares have recouped around $43 billion as the conglomerate’s founders pared back debt and raised billions of dollars selling stock to overseas investors like GQG Partners LLC and Qatar Investment Authority.  

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India, the country’s capital markets watchdog, said a probe into the Adani Group showed violations of rules on disclosures by listed entities and limits on the holdings of offshore funds, Reuters reported Monday, citing sources it didn’t identify.  

“This news will increase the volatility for investors till Sebi’s final findings on its Adani investigation get disclosed,” said Sameer Kalra, founder of Target Investing. “It’s another piece of evidence showing concentration of shareholding from the past, and it creates an overhang for smaller investors even as new large funds like GQG are coming in.”

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