Greens senator Larissa Waters accused the opposition on Monday of being too close to the mining industry after it failed to support an urgent investigation into the ownership structure of Indian company Adani’s Carmichael coal project in Queensland. This accusation was on the back of a move by the federal government and Labor to use their numbers to block an inquiry into which companies or individuals control Australia’s largest coal development.
The Greens had called for an inquiry into the Indian mining giant’s financial affairs after a Fairfax Media investigation raised questions about the ultimate ownership of the Abbot Point development, which has been the subject of fierce opposition from environment lobbies because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.
Crossbench senators Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir, Nick Xenophon and the Palmer United Party voted in favour of the Greens’ calls to establish which entities control the development and whether Adani’s environmental track record in India had been properly considered by Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Monday was the second attempt by the Greens to have the matter investigated.
Adani has repeatedly stressed that the ownership of its developments has not changed and that the ownership of its lease at Abbot Point is “consistent with its stated position advised to every relevant regulatory authority in Queensland, Australia, and India”.
A Fairfax Media investigation found company documents suggest billionaire Gautam Adani does not ultimately control many of the companies associated with his company’s Australian coal developments. Instead his eldest brother, Vinod Shantilal Adani, holds pivotal positions.
Vinod has been named in an Indian criminal investigation into the alleged siphoning of $1 billion from Indian shareholders in three Adani companies into offshore accounts.
A web of companies that appear to be linked to Adani’s coal developments in Australia extends from the low tax regime of Singapore to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
Complicating matters is conflicting paperwork, with Indian documents suggesting Adani Enterprises divested its stake in Abbot Point port for $235 million in 2013 to a private Singapore entity for which Vinod is the sole director.