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Adani & Myanmar Military-Owned Company in $290Mn Port Deal: Report

According to documents of Myanmar’s corporate regulator, Adani is bringing in $290 million capital for the project. 

Published
India
3 min read
File photo of protesters running after police fired warning shots and water cannon to disperse them during a protest in Mandalay, Myanmar, in February. 
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The Adani Group reportedly has a US$290m commercial deal with a holding company controlled by Myanmar’s armed forces, who have been accused by UN investigators of committing genocide and crimes against humanity, according to an investigative report by Australia’s ABC News Network.

The investigation, based on a report published by human rights lawyers and activists, alleged Adani Ports is developing a container port in collaboration with Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), a conglomerate funded by the military junta. In February, the United States imposed economic sanctions on MEC shortly after the military detained elected leaders and seized power in a coup.

More than 500 people have been killed in Myanmar military’s brutal crackdown on protests against its coup to oust civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Human rights groups and advocacy bodies have piled pressure on Adani, cautioning that it indirectly could be financing the Myanmar military to conduct international crimes.

While Adani Ports has categorically denied engaging with Myanmar military’s leadership, videos and images show Karan Adani, Chief Executive Officer of Adani Ports, meeting top general Min Aung Hlaing in late July 2019.

HOW IS ADANI PORTS CONNECTED TO THE MYANMAR MILITARY?

Leaked documents in a report by human rights lawyers and activists reveal the scale of Adani’s cooperation with the junta over a proposed container port in Yangon.

A joint report by the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) and activist group Justice For Myanmar (JFM) claimed that Adani’s subsidiary is paying US $52 million to MEC, a Myanmar military-controlled company.

Documents filed with Myanmar’s corporate regulator show Adani bringing in $141 million “capital in-cash” and $148 million “capital in-kind” for the project.

Report author and ACIJ human rights lawyer Rawan Arraf said the documents had been leaked from the Yangon Region Investment Commission “shortly after the violent February 1 coup perpetrated by senior general Hlaing and his cartel of the Myanmar military”.

According to the documents Adani’s subsidiary is paying $30 million to MEC as “land lease fee” and another $22 million as “land clearance fee”. These are likely to also flow to MEC as the owner of the port site.
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WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CONCERNS WITH ADANI-MYANMAR MILITARY LINK?

According to lawyer and report co-author Rawan Arraf’s statement to ABC, “What these documents reveal in particular is the amount that was provided to the MEC, a Myanmar military conglomerate that is controlled and owned by the Myanmar military [which] stands credibly accused and is being investigated at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even in the case of the crimes against the Rohingya genocide."

“The concern here — as has been publicly stated by the United Nations fact-finding mission — is that these military conglomerates provide essential financial revenue streams directly to the Myanmar military,” she told ABC.

“Adani has been publicly put on notice several times, and they’ve refused to disengage from their Myanmar deal with MEC and that’s a real problem. This money could be indirectly financing the Myanmar military to conduct international crimes,” Arraf added.
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WHAT IS ADANI PORTS’ RESPONSE?

In February, following Myanmar's coup, the Adani Group issued a statement denying it had engaged with military leaders over the 2019 approval of its $290 million port.

“We categorically deny having engaged with the military leadership while receiving this approval or thereafter,” ABC quoted an Adani spokesperson as stating.

However, according to videos uploaded on YouTube by the Myanmar military as well as state media reports, Karan met top Hlaing in late July 2019. Hlaing, who has been accused of war crimes, can be seen exchanging gifts during his visit to an Adani port at Mundra in Gujarat.

An Adani Ports spokeswoman said the general’s visit was hosted by the Indian government and its officials accompanied him to Mundra Port, which was “only one location out of multiple sites on this visit”.
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WHAT DOES THE UNITED NATIONS HAVE TO SAY?

Adani Ports’ construction of a shipping port on military-owned land in Yangon has raised the question about the complicity of foreign corporations involved in commercial relationships with Myanmar military companies.

The UN has said that companies, like Adani Ports were at high risk of contributing to or being complicit, ‘either in law, fact or in the eyes of the public’ in violations of human rights laws and international humanitarian laws through its contribution to the Myanmar military’s financial capacity.

In March 2021, the US imposed targeted financial sanctions on the military’s two conglomerates, MEHL and MEC because of their links to grave human rights abuses.

(With inputs from ABC)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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