The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), the country’s accounting authority, has opened an investigation into one of Adani Group’s longtime auditors, EY, Bloomberg reported on October 25, citing persons familiar with the situation.
The investigation was launched in recent weeks against S.R. Batliboi, one of EY’s member businesses in India, according to people familiar with the situation.
The regulator has requested files and communications related to its audits on some of the companies managed by billionaire Gautam Adani dating back to 2014, according to the report, adding that it was unclear how long the NFRA’s investigation could take or what repercussions, if any, the auditor and Adani’ Group companies might face.
S.R. Batliboi, for example, is the statutory auditor of five publicly traded Adani firms that generate over half of the group’s income. According to the newspaper, the investigation highlights the persistent issues about accounting and disclosures by the ports-to-power giant, which weathered a savage short seller onslaught in January.
In response to the Bloomberg investigation, an Adani Group spokeswoman stated, “We strongly reject any suggestion that Adani Group and its businesses have not acted in accordance with the regulations and accounting standards of the jurisdictions in which we operate.”
“The Adani Group consistently conducts its business in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and is confident about its practices, governance, and disclosures,” a spokeswoman said.
Adani Group, which has previously strongly refuted Hindenburg’s charges of corporate wrongdoing, is also the subject of a court-ordered investigation by market regulator SEBI.
S.R. Batliboi, in addition to being the current auditors for Adani Power Ltd., Adani Green Energy Ltd., the consumer goods firm Adani Wilmar Ltd., and the two cement makers the tycoon acquired from Holcim Ltd. last year, also signed off on the books of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd. for a decade leading up to 2017.
Foreign accounting companies are not permitted to register as auditors in India under Indian legislation. As a result, the Big Four firms, including EY, operate through separately managed affiliates.
Hindenburg questioned Adani’s accounting and audits in a January report that destroyed more than $150 billion in market value from the conglomerate’s listed entities at one point.
In a reply sent on January 29, the organization stated that its enterprises are audited by “duly certified and qualified” specialists.