What is OCCRP that has levelled allegations against Adani and Vedanta?

A report published by OCCRP has accused Adani Group of routing investments in its publicly traded stocks through "opaque" Mauritius funds. But what is OCCRP, and why is it accusing the Adani Group

OCCRP, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Nandini Singh New Delhi
On Thursday, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a global network of investigative journalists backed by billionaire investor George Soros, among others, made fresh allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.

In its report published on August 31, OCCRP claimed that exclusive documents obtained by it show that "in at least two cases … [supposedly public] investors turn out to have widely reported ties to the group's majority shareholders, the Adani family", and helped manipulate Adani companies' stock prices.

The Adani Group has categorically rejected these allegations, terming them as a "concerted bid by Soros-funded interests" to "revive the meritless Hindenburg report".

To understand what these allegations are, read: 

Adani Group, Hindenburg, Supreme Court and OCCRP: All you need to know

But, what is OCCRP?

"OCCRP wasn't really planned – it was born of necessity. We were all working on the same intractable problems in our own countries. But a couple of us realised this, and communicated," says OCCRP's co-founder, Drew Sullivan.

OCCRP was founded in 2006 by American Sullivan and Bulgarian Paul Radu, both investigative journalists who recognised connections in their experiences investigating and reporting on organised crime and systematic corruption.

The OCCRP network was founded in Sarajevo with funding from the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). Over the years, the OCCRP has grown from six journalists working in five countries to over 150 journalists operating in 30 nations. The goal is to create a global network of journalists with easy contact and information exchange so that global networks of corruption and crime can be better understood and exposed.

The OCCRP also works with regional partners, including Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), Centro Latino Americano de Investigacion Periodistica (CLIP), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). It is also a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

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Who are the main supporters of OCCRP?

The OCCRP receives monetary support from organisations like The Bay and Paul Foundations, Dutch Postcode Lottery, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Ford Foundation, Fritt Ord Foundation, German Marshall Fund, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, National Endowment for Democracy, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Puech Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Skoll Foundation, US Agency for International Development, US Department of State, etc.

What has OCCRP done so far?

According to its own figures, since 2009, reporting by the OCCRP has directly led to 398 official investigations, 621 arrests and sentences, 131 resignations, and more than $10 billion in fines levied and money seized.

Over the years, it has been involved in several high-profile investigations, including various investigations into Russia's oligarchs and Vladimir Putin. 

The OCCRP also worked on the Panama Papers project with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), producing more than 40 stories on corruption through the use of offshore entities, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism.

The organisation has also been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize for its work "contributing to peace by unmasking political corruption and organised crime." 

It has also received awards from the United Nations Development Programme, the European Union, etc. 

Is there a George Soros connection to OCCRP?

The Adani Group's statement against the OCCRP calls it "Soros-backed". 

"We categorically reject these recycled allegations. These news reports appear to be yet another concerted bid by Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the meritless Hindenburg report. In fact, this was anticipated, as was reported by the media last week," said the Adani Group.

Earlier this year, critical comments made by billionaire investor George Soros about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gautam Adani following the Hindenburg report drew a lot of flak from India's ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its supporters. Since then, Soros' name has frequently been used to deflect criticism directed against the government, or in this case, Adani.

Meanwhile, the OCCRP website states that Soros's Open Society Foundations is one of the organisation's 21 major institutional funders. 

Impact of the OCCRP report on Adani shares

Shares of Adani Group companies plummeted significantly on Thursday after OCCRP's report suggested that Adani Group's family partners used 'opaque' funds to invest in millions of shares of the conglomerate's publicly listed companies.

Adani Enterprises, the flagship group of the company, saw its shares fall more than 3 per cent in early trade. 

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) shares declined 2.25 per cent to Rs 800.25, while Adani Green Energy shares plummeted more than 3.3 per cent to Rs 937.90.

In addition, Adani Transmission (-1.82 per cent), Adani Wilmar (-1.63 per cent), Adani Total Gas (-1.89 per cent) and Adani Power (-2.54 per cent) also fell sharply as a reaction to the OCCRP report. 

Shares of Adani Group-owned companies such as NDTV (-1.39 per cent), Ambuja (-2.53 per cent) and ACC (2.53 per cent) also fell sharply during the trading session.

On Friday, shares of Adani Group companies experienced mixed trade as some of the conglomerate's listed companies managed to register marginal gains.

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Adani Enterprises was up 0.49 per cent to Rs 2,431.05 per share. Meanwhile, Adani Ports APSEZ shares were up Rs 794.85 apiece at around 12 pm.

Adani Power (0.25 per cent), Adani Transmission (0.79 per cent), Ambuja Cements (0.60 per cent) and NDTV (0.40 per cent) were the other Adani Group companies that registered gains in early trade.

On the other hand, Adani Wilmar fell 2.03 per cent to Rs 352.20 apiece. It was the biggest loser among Adani Group stocks. Adani Green Energy (0.11 per cent ), Adani Total Gas (0.40 per cent), and ACC (0.49 per cent) also declined marginally.

After Adani, OCCRP targets Vedanta

After fresh allegations against the Adani Group, OCCRP released findings from another investigation – this time, the target is Mumbai-based multinational mining company Vedanta Ltd.

In an article published on Thursday, OCCRP said that Vedanta ran a 'covert' lobbying campaign to weaken key environmental regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It added that India's government approved the changes without public consultation and implemented them using what experts say are illegal methods.

Not only this, the report added that Vedanta's oil business, Cairn India, also lobbied to have public hearings scrapped for exploratory drilling on oil blocks that it had won in government auctions. Since then, six of Cairn's oil projects in Rajasthan have been approved despite local opposition.

Meanwhile, Vedanta is currently trading for Rs 235.45. The stock has experienced a 1.36 per cent change today, indicating a positive movement.

First Published: Sep 01 2023 | 1:43 PM IST

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