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India’s Richest Man Accused of Pulling the ‘Largest Con in Corporate History’

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Chairperson of Indian conglomerate Adani Group, Gautam Adani, speaks at the World Congress of Accountants in Mumbai on Nov. 19, 2022. Credit – Indranil Mukherjee—AFP via Getty Images

 

Billionaire Gautam Adani has slipped from being the world’s third richest man to the fourth, after an activist investment firm released a report Tuesday accusing his company, Adani Group, of “brazen” stock manipulation and accounting fraud worth $218 billion, wiping $5.51 billion from his personal net worth by Thursday.

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Hindenburg Research, which in the past has shorted—or bet against—companies like electric truck maker Nikola Corp and Twitter, said it holds short positions in Adani companies through U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivative instruments.

Tuesday’s report sent shares tied to seven of the Adani Group’s listed companies falling by more than 5% on Wednesday, taking a $10.8 billion hit, and forcing the company to issue a strong denial of its contents.

Below, what to know about Adani and the corporate corruption allegations.

Who is Gautam Adani?

Gautam Adani is a self-made billionaire, and India’s richest man, with a net worth of roughly $118 billion as of April 2022. Much of this wealth was accumulated during the past three years through his company Adani Group, as the share prices of his key listed companies climbed, pushing the billionaire’s rank to the third-richest man in the world, behind Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

The industrialist began as a commodity trader in the 1980s before he founded his company Adani Group in 1988, eventually expanding it into a private infrastructure empire that operates ports, airports, and coal mines across India and the world. The group also has multiple subsidiaries through its data and cable centers and the manufacturing of defense goods. It plans to expand further through a $70 billion investment in green energy businesses in the coming year.

The company’s success has often been linked to lucrative government concessions, thanks to Adani’s close ties with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In the past, Adani has been a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for a “self-reliant India.”

What do Hindenburg’s findings reveal?

Among other allegations, the report says that Adani Group engaged in stock price manipulation and accounting fraud over the course of decades, and found evidence that the group’s key listed companies fell in value by 85% despite “sky-high valuations.” It also said that substantial debt puts the group on “precarious financial footing.”

The report names several family members—like Gautam Adani’s brothers, Rajesh and Vinod Adani, as well as associates of the Adani Group—for their involvement in major bribery and tax evasion cases. Members of the Adani family have been the subjects of past corruption investigations carried out by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Directorate of Review Intelligence. The Hindenburg report also claims that Adani family members allegedly cooperated in the creation of offshore shell entities worth $4.5 billion through forged documents, primarily in tax-haven jurisdictions like Mauritius, the UAE, and the Caribbean islands. Hindenburg said that SEBI was still investigating a case in Mauritius in September 2022, but that no action has been taken against the group so far.

Hindenburg said the report’s findings were based on interviews with dozens of individuals, including former senior executives at Adani Group, thousands of documents, and due diligence site visits in almost half a dozen countries.

 

How has the Adani Group responded to the allegations?

Adani Group’s chief financial officer Jugeshinder Singh said in an official statement Wednesday that the company was shocked by the report, calling it a “malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, baseless, and discredited allegations.”

Adani Group did not address specific allegations in its official statement but said it has always been in compliance with the law. The conglomerate also said that the timing of the report suggested malicious intent to “undermine the Adani Group’s reputation with the principal objective of damaging the upcoming follow-on Public Offering from Adani Enterprises,” referring to the group’s plans for increasing the amount of freely traded shares.

On Thursday, Adani Group said in a new statement that it is considering legal action against Hindenburg. “We are evaluating the relevant provisions under US and Indian laws for remedial and punitive action against Hindenburg Research,” said Adani Group Legal Head Jatin Jalundhwala. He added that the report created “volatility in Indian stock markets” that was “of great concern and has led to unwanted anguish for Indian citizens.”

The report was published days before bidding for a $2.5 billion stock sale for Adani’s secondary shares begins Friday, which will include anchor investors like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Morgan Stanley.

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Sharing Too Much Information May Hinder Your Job Search

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In Mad Men’s season four episode Waldorf Stories, Roger Sterling tells Don Draper, who’d just interviewed a junior copywriter candidate, who unbeknownst to him was Roger’s wife’s cousin, advice he gave him he knew seldom works in the corporate world: “I told him to be himself. That was pretty mean, I guess.”

The key to getting hired is telling your interviewer what they want to hear without sinking yourself by telling him or her what they don’t need to hear. Always remember: Employers make judgments about what you communicate.

For example, if you live close to the employer, you should let them know, as this will be seen as a plus, whereas if you don’t, you should keep it to yourself. (e.g., If you live quite a distance away, stating your address on your resume could disqualify you as a candidate who’s not “geographically desirable.)

The hiring process, especially at the interview stage, is a process of disqualification. 500 applicants, one position to fill necessitates disqualifying 499 candidates, which makes hiring a fundamentally adversarial process. Therefore, the fewer excuses you give an employer why they shouldn’t hire you, the higher your odds of getting hired.

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I see it all the time: job seekers who run themselves into walls by oversharing. More than once, I wanted to say, “Don’t say that! You’re coming across as if you can’t control yourself.”

Nobody is entitled to acceptance. I know from firsthand experience that being “myself” often has consequences. Call it arrogance or overconfidence; in terms of job searching, I’m a let the chips fall where they may type of guy. For me, it’s imperative I feel welcomed and I’m a good fit. Therefore, throughout the hiring process, I don’t hide my personality, hobbies or how I approach and value my work. If I’m not hired for those reasons—being who I am— which has happened many times, then that’s not an employer I’d be comfortable working for; therefore, I averted what would have been a negative working situation.

Despite my “this is who I am” attitude, I’ll say this as someone who has worked in the corporate world for longer than I care to admit: Sometimes, you need to filter, especially when speaking with someone who can hire you. Learning how to read a room—call it having “social intelligence”—and using your reading to know what to say and, more importantly, what not to say is a skill that’ll serve you well.

It should go without saying that what you communicate about yourself will influence what the other person thinks of you. Hence, before “communicating,” ask yourself if what you’re about to reveal, be it on your resume, LinkedIn profile, social media or especially during an interview, will help or hinder you. What will the reader/person you’re speaking with do with the information you’re offering?

Over the years, I’ve interviewed many different personality-type people, resulting in some interesting interactions. I once had a candidate reveal they were seriously contemplating having a sex change and were in the process of consulting doctors. I still have no clue why they decided to bring this up.

When communicating with employers, only share relevant information about yourself that will sell you as an asset to the bottom line and enable them to gauge you as you want them to, thereby influencing some, but not all, of the employer’s hiring decision-making narrative, including, but again not all, biases. For me, I want a potential employer to gauge whether I, as authentic me (key), will be a fit, thus why I communicate who I am as much as I do. I don’t want to put on a show to be accepted, only to end up in a workplace that doesn’t work for me. NOTE: I speak for myself.

Suppose you want to convey you’re a team player. In this case, besides offering examples from your work history, mention you play in an adult baseball league. Want your interviewer to see you as someone creative? Then, mention you paint landscapes. Compassionate? Let your interviewer know you volunteer at the local suicide hotline. Healthy? Mention you jog 5 km every evening to unwind.

Fair or not, everything you communicate about yourself, including your speech (e.g., vocabulary, pronunciation, use of profanity) and physical appearance, is used to form an opinion about you. You control much of how people perceive you, which means you control the determining hiring decision factor: Hiring managers hire candidates they feel good about.

As a rule, steer clear of the obvious taboo subjects—religion, politics, gossip, conspiracy theories and partying. In addition, don’t bring up:

  • Your finances.
  • Having a side business.
  • Your retirement plans.
  • That you’re desperate for a job.
  • Health issues that won’t interfere with your job performance or require special accommodations.

When you overshare, especially during an interview, you increase the odds of providing information that’ll be used to disqualify you. Before you say anything, post it on your social media or LinkedIn profile or include it on your resume; think carefully about how you’ll be perceived, then act accordingly.

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Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to [email protected].

 

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B.C. cyberattack: 1.5 billion ‘unauthorized access attempts’ daily

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Careful attention to government statements and legislation is required to get a handle on the level of risk British Columbians’ information is under, as investigators probe multiple breaches under a continued barrage of attacks.

Government sources have confirmed to CTV News that various government ministries and agencies, along with their associated websites, networks, and servers, face approximately 1.5 billion “unauthorized access” or hacking attempts daily. That represents an increase over the last few years, and explains why the province adds millions of dollars per year to its cybersecurity budget.

Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth, sought to reassure the public that “there’s no evidence at this point that any sensitive personal information was accessed” and was adamant that no ransom demands have been made yet. He confirmed police and federal agencies are involved.

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But Wednesday’s late-afternoon statement from the premier’s office acknowledging the provincial IT infrastructure had been compromised, a week after CTV News was first to report public employees began receiving urgent bulletins to immediately change their passwords, includes important clues. 

It notes “sophisticated cybersecurity incidents,” plural and that government has notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The OIPC declined our interview request and referred us to provincial legislation requiring public bodies to notify his office when there are privacy breaches that “could reasonably be expected to result in significant harm” to physical well-being, reputation, finances, employment, or property.

While Opposition Leader, Kevin Falcon, blasted the government for withholding notification of the attack for at least a week, and doing so an hour before a highly-anticipated Canucks playoff game, one expert is siding with Farnworth’s insistence that delay was necessary.

University of British Columbia associate professor, Thomas Pasquier, specializes in cybersecurity investigations and agrees with government technology experts and third-party advisors who prioritized securing the networks and finding where the breaches were successful.

“It’s important to understand the source and understand what has been done after the initial compromise and how it propagated,” he said. “It could be multiple things, including a phishing attack or a misconfigured database and an attacker got access.”

The federal Communications Security Establishment, which oversees the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, confirms: “we are working with officials in British Columbia to support their efforts to mitigate the incident” but wouldn’t provide further details. In their email statement they emphasized “cyber threats remain a persistent threat to Canadian organizations, as well as critical infrastructure owners and operators.”

Pasquier urged the government to provide more transparency, but also speculated “the attack may be still ongoing and the investigation is not clear, potentially, about the exact source and the exact extent of the compromise.”

 

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Canfor shuttering sawmill and pulp line production in B.C.

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Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP) will permanently shutter a sawmill in Bear Lake, B.C., indefinitely curtail one production line at a pulp mill, and suspend a planned investment to revitalize its shuttered sawmill in Houston, B.C.

Canfor blamed “persistent shortage of economically available timber and challenging operating conditions in northern British Columbia” for the closure decisions.

The closure plans include permanently shutting down its Polar sawmill in Bear Lake, north of Prince George. That closure alone will affect 180 employees.

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Canfor Pulp Products Inc. (TSX:CFX) simultaneously announced it will indefinitely curtail one production line at its Northwood facility in Prince George. The curtailment of that production line is expected to affect 220 works.

Canfor also announced that a previously announced plan to invest in the revitalization of its Houston, B.C. mill, which it previously shut down, has been shelved.

Last year, Canfor announced it was shutting down its Houston sawmill, but said planned to redevelop the mill. That announcement came after the company announced it would permanently shut down its pulp mill in Prince George.

But Canfor said Thursday it is shelving the Houston mill redevelopment. The company blamed provincial policies for a shrinking timber supply.

“The ability to reliably access enough economic timber to run our manufacturing facilities is critical for our business,” Canfor president Don Kayne said in a press release.

“Unfortunately, while our province has a sufficient supply of timber available for harvest as confirmed by the Allowable Annual Cut set by BC’s Chief Forester, the actual harvest level has declined dramatically in recent years.

“In 2023 the actual harvest was 42 percent lower than the allowable cut, a level not seen since the 1960s. While this decline is partly the result of natural disturbances – beetle infestations and wildfire particularly – it is also the result of the cumulative impact of policy changes and increased regulatory complexity.

“These choices and changes have hampered our ability to consistently access enough economic fibre to support our manufacturing facilities and forced the closure or curtailment of many forest sector operations, including our Polar sawmill.”

Canfor Pulp CEO Kevin Edgson likewise said a lack of fibre was to blame for the decision to shut down one production line at its Northwood pulp mill in Prince George.

“The persistent shortage of economic fibre, particularly in the Prince George region, has led to the closure or curtailment of a number of sawmills, which in turn has dramatically reduced the volume of chips available to meet the needs of our pulp operations,” he said in a press release.

“Despite exhaustive efforts, including expanding well beyond our traditional operating region, there is simply not enough residual fibre to supply the current production capacity of all our operations.”

Canfor Pulp operates two pulp production lines at its Northwood mill in Prince George and one production line at its nearby Intercon facility. The company said it will continue to operate both lines at Northwood over the next few weeks, then wind down operations to a single production line at the beginning of the third quarter.

 

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