Adani Group’s deepening complicity with the Myanmar junta
May 4, 2023
Three Adani Group companies have pursued business with the illegal Myanmar military junta and the military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), according to an examination of leaked documents, company disclosures and social media posts. The new revelations show Adani Group’s deepening complicity with the illegal junta and its businesses, as it commits ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity with total impunity.
After the Myanmar military launched its illegal coup attempt, Adani Power Limited and Adani Transmission Limited pursued new business with the junta. Meanwhile, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Limited (Adani Ports or APSEZ) increased its investment in its Yangon port project, even after announcing its withdrawal in October 2021, further benefiting MEC. MEC is sanctioned by the US, Australia, Canada, the EU and UK.
Adani Ports’ sale of its Yangon project is being carried out in secret from the people of Myanmar who the port ultimately belongs to. Adani Ports has ignored repeated emails from Justice For Myanmar asking for the disclosure of the buyer of the port, failing to meet basic standards of transparency as laid out in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
New evidence suggests:
- APSEZ issued shareholder loans worth around US$24 million for the Ahlone International Port Terminal (2) in the six months from October 2021. These loans funded the port development and procurement of equipment that ultimately benefits MEC, which will take control of the port and its assets at the end of the lease.
- Weeks after announcing it was withdrawing from Myanmar, Adani Ports sold three reconditioned rail mounted quay cranes with Siemens drive trains to its Myanmar subsidiary for US$6.9 million, which were delivered in early 2022. Siemens responded that they were told the end destination of the cranes was Mundra, India.
- Leaked documents confirm Adani Ports paid MEC US$22 million in 2019 for “land clearance”, which is an apparent kickback.
- In October 2021, Adani Power Limited sent an expression of interest to a US sanctioned junta minister for the import of coal to India from Myanmar and to seek cooperation in the development of the coal mining industry in Myanmar. Coal mining finances junta war crimes and crimes against humanity, including in Sagaing Region where the coal is to be purchased from. Adani Power's local partner told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the expression of interest was rejected by the junta.
- Adani Transmission Limited was in negotiation with the junta for the cross-border trade in electricity, according to the Adani Power expression of interest. In response to questions from Justice For Myanmar, Adani Transmission denied negotiations took placed but acknowledged that they were “approached”.
Continued port of complicity
Over two years since the military’s coup attempt, Adani Ports remains in Myanmar and has continued to develop Ahlone International Port Terminal (2), a strategic project that provides the Myanmar military with a source of funds, a lucrative future asset and improved logistical capabilities.
Adani’s Yangon port project was launched in 2019, following the Myanmar military’s crime of genocide against the Rohingya and the project proceeded against the recommendations of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar to cut ties with military businesses. The Fact-Finding Mission named Adani Ports as a “stark example” of foreign companies paying military conglomerates for the use of their property. Records from the Myanmar Investment Commission, released by Distributed Denial of Secrets, show that Adani Ports’ proposed capital for the project was US$290 million.
The port is being developed under a build-operate-transfer agreement with MEC which includes an upfront payment of US$90 million to the military conglomerate that was completed in 2019, according to company disclosures. A leaked Myanmar Investment Commission decision letter shows that the payment consisted of a rental fee of US$30 million, a land use premium of $US38 million and a “land clearance fee” of US$22 million. Adani Ports did not respond to questions over the meaning of the “land clearance fee”, which appears to be an egregious overpayment for the demolition of low-level buildings on part of the site, and is an apparent kickback.
Adani Ports has disclosed that the company’s last payment to MEC was in August 2020. Adani Ports has not disclosed what this payment was for and the amount. It could be an additional annual fee of US$20,000 owed to MEC for the land lease. Adani Ports disclosed the US$20,000 annual fee to MEC as “facilitated” by the Myanmar Investment Commission. However, the leaked Myanmar Investment Commission decision makes no mention of the US$20,000.
In October 2021, Adani Ports announced that they expected they would exit from their Yangon investment by the end of the financial year, which would have been March 31, 2022, following civil society and investor pressure. Adani Ports CEO Karan Adani stated that the company had invested about US$150 million in the Yangon port project.
Yet, the company’s actions in Myanmar and secrecy raise serious questions over their divestment. Rather than withdrawing, Adani Ports proceeded to develop the port, seemingly to maximise shareholder profits by building wealth for MEC, despite Western sanctions and in disregard of the company’s human rights responsibilities and risk of complicity with the junta’s international crimes.
A significant part of new investment has been made in the form of shareholder loans from Adani Ports to its Myanmar subsidiary, Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited, following the divestment announcement. The loans pass through Adani Ports’ fully owned Singapore subsidiary, Coastal International Terminals Pte Ltd, and have financed construction, dredging and the procurement of equipment.
APSEZ’s 2021-2022 annual report shows shareholder loans to Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited of 1.77 billion Indian rupees between October 21, 2021 and March 28, 2022, equivalent to over US$24 million.
In November 2021, Adani Ports issued an invoice to Adani Yangon International Terminal for three reconditioned rail mounted quay cranes for US$6.97 million. The 61-tonne Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) cranes were fitted with drive trains for Siemens.
In response to questions from Justice For Myanmar over their involvement in the reconditioning of the cranes and the company’s compliance with EU sanctions on MEC, Siemens AG responded,
“We can confirm that Siemens received an order for components for cranes in Mundra, India. Mundra was also declared as end destination. We have no direct contract with the end customer in India. We have no knowledge of any transfer of these cranes to a different location. We are committed to compliance with applicable national export controls regimes and to safeguarding human rights. Siemens’ robust compliance programs and export control systems are designed to ensure we are compliant with export control regimes and other regulations.”
Siemens AG confirmed that the order for crane components was made in 2020 and delivered in June 2021, after EU sanctions on MEC.
Satellite images show the three 61-tonne cranes installed in Adani’s Yangon port by March 2022, along with nine smaller cranes delivered by ZPMC in early 2022, all displaying the Adani logo.
Then in April 2022, Adani Ports requested permission from the junta’s Ministry of Defence to issue visas for five experts from India for work on the port project.
In May 2022, Adani Ports announced that they had signed a binding share purchase agreement on a “completed project basis”, stating that the company would ensure full recovery of its investment within an exit postponed to June 2022.
In a November 2022 earnings call, Karan Adani told investors, “I'm expecting the divestment process to conclude in the coming few weeks.”
However, according to an official source, Adani Ports made a submission to the junta-controlled Investment Commission the following month seeking permission to amend its repayment schedule for loans from Coastal International Terminals Pte Ltd. The updated schedule detailed loans to Adani Yangon International Terminal of US$30.7 million from October 2022 to March 2023, and further loans to March 2024, bringing total borrowings to US$180 million. Adani Ports did not respond to questions over whether they would be lending the full US$180 million for the port development.
Adani Ports’ sale of its Myanmar business is being done through the transfer of shares of its Singapore subsidiary, Coastal International Terminals Pte Ltd, suggesting that the Singapore government is continuing to allow business that benefits the Myanmar military and its conglomerates to operate in the country and use its banks.
The Singapore government should urgently impose sanctions on the Myanmar military junta and its conglomerates, and end the use of its territory for Myanmar military-linked businesses, including APSEZ.
Other Adani Group business with the Myanmar junta
While planning its exit, Adani also attempted to expand its business with the illegitimate military junta.
According to a leaked letter from Adani Power Limited, in October 2021, the company submitted an expression of interest to junta natural resources minister Khin Maung Yi to import coal from Sagaing Region to India and cooperate with the junta in coal mining, supported by the privately owned business, Horizon Myanmar Company Limited. The expression of interest requests coordinates of coal mines in the Sagaing Region, information on the capacity and life of the mines, coal quality and current status.
Adani Power’s expression of interest was sent five months after Khin Maung Yi was sanctioned by the US government. It was copied to Sunil Seth, a director of Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited, whose name the company’s Myanmar Investment Commission permit is in.
The junta maintains a grip on the coal mining sector through Mining Enterprise No. 1, a government agency which it illegally controls. Mining Enterprise No. 1 regulates coal mining and acts as both a state revenue collector and commercial partner in mines, ensuring the junta gets lucrative tax and royalty payments, as well as a vast share of profits.
At the time of Adani Power’s expression of interest, the junta was waging indiscriminate attacks in Sagaing Region, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The junta has relentlessly continued its attacks across Sagaing. An April 11, 2023 junta air strike on a public event killed more 100 people, including children.
Adani Power did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar regarding the expression of interest and the current status of their business with the military junta. The company told ABC that it has no current business in Myanmar. A representative of Horizon Myanmar Company Limited told ABC that the junta rejected Adani Power's expression of interest.
The same document revealed that Adani Transmission Limited was negotiating with the junta’s electricity ministry for the trade in electricity between India and Myanmar.
However, in response to questions from Justice For Myanmar, an Adani Transmission representative said that it is “false” that the company was negotiating with the junta: “Adani Transmission has no interest in conducting any business with the Junta in Myanmar. Any dealing with the junta in Myanmar is repugnant to Adani Transmission’s role and responsibility as a leader in ESG.”
A second representative added, “There were no negotiations. We were approached and Adani Transmission said no.”
The company did not respond to questions on the “approach” and whether Adani Power Limited was misrepresenting Adani Transmission as having negotiations with the junta.
End Adani and Indian complicity with the Myanmar junta
Adani Ports’ continued development of Ahlone International Port Terminal (2) after its announced exit is irresponsible, increasing the value of assets for MEC, and the Myanmar military’s ability to earn revenue from the port in the future.
Investors in Adani companies that continue to do business with the Myanmar military junta and its conglomerates should divest, in accordance with their international human rights responsibilities and moral and ethical obligations not to invest in companies doing business with those involved in the commission of serious international crimes.
Adani’s business in Myanmar has funded the Myanmar military’s atrocities and emboldened corrupt war criminals. Adani must responsibly disengage and remedy the negative impacts they have already caused from their deplorable business activities in Myanmar.
As Adani Group is domiciled in India, the Indian government has an obligation under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure companies in its territory respect human rights. Instead of fulfilling its international human rights responsibilities, India has deepened its complicity in the Myanmar military’s international crimes through the transfer of arms and actions that legitimise the junta. Appallingly, in April 2023, India’s ambassador to Myanmar met with the junta’s US-sanctioned natural resources minister to discuss “technical and technological cooperation and cooperation in mineral sector,” which could support attempts by Adani Power to develop coal mining with the junta.
We call on India to impose an arms embargo on the Myanmar military, targeted sanctions on the military’s business interests and take immediate steps to prevent Adani Group and other Indian companies from providing support to the junta.
Explore the evidence
Invoice for rail mounted quay cranes issued by Adani Ports to Adani Yangon International Terminal Company Limited, dated 22 November 2021: Download PDF (67 kb)
Adani Power Limited letter to junta natural resources minister, dated 23 October 2021: Download PDF (202 kb)
Myanmar Investment Commission decision regarding Adani Ports, dated 26 April 2019: Download PDF (2.6 mb)