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Adani's Australia coal mine hit by ownership controversy

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Adanis Australia coal mine hit by ownership controversy
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Melbourne: Within days of reported uncertainty about Queensland state support for Australia's largest Carmichael coal mine, the Gautam Adani-led Adani Group project has been hit by controversy again over the ultimate ownership of the Abbot Point lease.

The daily Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Fairfax Media investigation said "it appears that 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".

The report "has found a complex web of companies tied to Adani's Australian coal developments, extending from the low-tax regime of Singapore to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands", it added.

"Company documents also suggest uncertainty about the ultimate ownership of the Abbot Point development, which has attracted global scrutiny and fierce criticism from the environmental movement because of its closeness to the Great Barrier Reef," it said.

The report said Vinod Adani has been named in a criminal investigation into the alleged siphoning of $1 billion from Indian shareholders in three Adani companies into offshore accounts.

"Whatever the truth of the untested allegations, a trail of documents appears to tie Vinod Shantilal Adani to the ownership of the Abbot Point lease," it added.

Commenting on the reports, an Adani Group spokesperson said: "Ownership structures of the companies reflect the required level of ring-fencing and financial governance architecture required for a mine, rail and port project, and T1 (Abbot Point) port operations. The above is also layered to meet the various regulatory and funding regimes that apply to these assets."

Earlier this week, the Adani Group said the construction of Carmichael mine will go ahead despite the recent poll victory in Queensland of the Labor Party that is committed to removing taxpayer support for the project.

"The result of the Queensland election does not influence the company's financial decision-making. Adani welcomes the opportunity to work with the new premier to meet and discuss a project that will deliver 10,000 jobs and $22bn in taxes and royalties that the Queensland government needs to invest right back into frontline services in the state," the group said in a statement.

Unlike the exiting Liberal National Party, which promised funds for the 300-km rail line to take coal to the Abbot Point port, the Labor Party has committed removing state subsidies for the Carmichael coal and associated rail projects.

It also opposes "reef dumping" under the "Saving the Great Barrier Reef" policy, and has committed to banning the sea dumping of capital dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Coal production in the $16 billion Carmichael mine will start in 2017, with up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year set to be exported, making it one of the largest in the world.

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