Damning Report Blames City Of London As Vedanta Prepares To De-list
• Damning report on Vedanta’s operations released. MPs take note.
• Protests at AGM as Vedanta de-lists.
• FCA headquarters targeted as responsible for corporate crimes.
Foil Vedanta* and a coalition of organisations have released a damning report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ days before Vedanta Resources’ AGM and de-listing, described by Hywel Williams MP as ‘deeply concerning and disturbing’.
Zambian musician and human rights campaigner Maiko Zulu
The report gives a comprehensive account of legal judgments against Vedanta across its global operations, and blames the City of London and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which is the latest in a long list of London miners linked to ‘corporate massacres’. A protest will be held at the FCA headquarters in Canary Wharf at 11am on 1st October demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the London Stock Exchange without being held to account.
Loud protests will be held outside the final London AGM of Vedanta Resources** at 2 pm on Monday 1st October at the Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London. Protesters inside and outside the meeting will demand justice for victims of the massacre of thirteen protesters against Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tamil Nadu in May, and draw attention to the high profile British and Indian figures who have lent the company support over the years.
The report ‘Vedanta’s Billions’, released today, is a summary of legal judgments against Vedanta across its operations, revealing its abusive modus operandi, with special focus on illegal mining in Goa, pollution and tax evasion in Zambia, as well as illegal expansion and pollution in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, industrial disaster at Korba in Chhattisgarh, land settlement and pollution issues in Punjab, displacement and harassment of activists in Lanjigarh, Odisha, and a mineral allocation scam in Rajasthan.
The report is being released days ahead of the company’s final London AGM and General Meeting, at which it plans to formally de-list from the London Stock Exchange. The move follows the police shooting which killed thirteen people, including women and children, on 22nd May this year, their 100th day of protest against pollution by Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, India. The killing is being dubbed a ‘corporate massacre’ and led to the closure of the Sterlite copper plant. Vedanta’s de-listing plans were announced shortly afterwards amidst global protests against the company.
The report notes that Vedanta is now the latest in a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, GCM Resources, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. As such, the report names the role of the City of London and the Financial Conduct Authority in ‘minimising the risks associated with Vedanta’s legal violations and human rights and environmental abuses’ and failing to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds.
Anil Agarwal’s father Dwarka Prasad Agarwal and son Agnivesh Agarwal and the Armenian illegal mining, paradise papers
A protest will be held outside the FCA headquarters on the morning of the AGM, demanding that the body finally investigates the company and holds them to account for the various crimes detailed in the report. The report will be handed to a member of FCA staff at the event.
The report concludes that:
“Some companies have de-listed due to a legitimate need to pursue long term company strategy, which may not be supported by shareholders’ emphasis on short term profitability. However in this case, Vedanta’s track record of human rights, environmental and financial violations, together with its already complicated financial structure, strongly suggests that de-listing is part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations.”
The report also includes a detailed diagram of Vedanta’s corporate structure, as it has evolved over the years, revealing the disproportionate number of shell companies registered in various tax havens, reflecting their opaqueness, contrary to their claim of being transparent.
Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, who received a copy of the report, said:
“This is a deeply concerning and disturbing report. I will be taking note of its findings and seeking to ensure that MPs, policymakers and the Westminster Government are informed of its findings. The report once again emphasises the need for action by UK authorities to investigate and regulate London-listed corporations that carry out illegal and immoral acts overseas.”
Loud protests will be held at Vedanta’s AGM demanding justice for the victims of the Tuticorin massacre, including the 217 people who were injured, and nine disabled for life1. Fatima Babu, from the Anti Sterlite People’s Movement, one of the main groups involved in the protests says:
“The people of Thoothukudi are still reeling from the massacre of innocent women, men and children in May, which was carried out in the name of protecting Vedanta’s industry from the people whom it has polluted for so many years. The Tamil Nadu, Indian and British government’s must all take responsibility for the lawlessness and disproportionate power wielded by Vedanta, which led to this tragic event.”
Inside the AGM dissident shareholders will ask questions sent in by communities at various Vedanta operations, where several protests are expected on Monday.
Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta, primary author of the Vedanta’s Billions report, says:
“We cannot let Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal escape accountability and justice in the UK, under whose jurisdiction he has committed widespread financial, human rights and environmental crimes. The FCA and City of London must now initiate proceedings against Vedanta or remain complicit in enabling and mitigating these abuses.”
Ian Hannam: the ‘invisible hand’ behind global mining capital
In Goa, where all Vedanta’s operations are shut down due to a lack of appropriate permissions to operate, the State has begun the process of recovering value owed to it as a result of Vedanta’s illegal mining between 2007 and 2012. On 29th August this year Goa’s directorate of mines and geology issued a Rs 97.5 crore ($13.43 million) demand in respect of non payment of royalty for the financial years 2011-13.2
In Zambia, where the company was found guilty of a major pollution incident in 2006, and there is evidence of widespread transfer mis-pricing and tax evasion, Vedanta’s subsidiary KCM recently had its power supply partially cut by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation due to its refusal to settle a three month electricity bill3. Contractors and suppliers of KCM are also in a long term dispute with the company over non-payment of invoices.4 The London Supreme Court hearing in the case of the right of 1,826 Zambian farmers to have their case against KCM and Vedanta for continuing pollution and loss of livelihood heard in the UK, will be held on 15th and 16th of January 2019.
The report also points out the high level support the company has received from British and Indian former politicians and other figures. Vedanta Directors have included former High Commissioner of India – Sir David Gore-Booth, former Finance Minister of India – P. Chidambaram (who also appeared as counsel for Vedanta in a recent case5), former Home Secretary of India and Indian Ambassador to the USA – Naresh Chandra, mining mogul and former BHP Billiton CEO – Brian Gilbertson, former Rio Tinto CEO – Tom Albanese, and former Anglo American CEO – Cynthia Carroll. Former J. P. Morgan banker and one of the most well known dealmakers in London, Ian Hannam, advised on Vedanta’s listing as well as many of the City’s largest mining IPOs including Xstrata, BHP Billiton and Kazakhmys.
* Foil Vedanta is an independent grassroots solidarity organization focused primarily on the FTSE 250 British-Indian mining company Vedanta Resources PLC. Foil Vedanta targets the company in London where it is registered, as well as linking with people’s movements where Vedanta is destroying lives and devastating the land in India, Zambia, Liberia, South Africa and elsewhere.
** Vedanta Resources is a FTSE 250 diversified oil and mining company, who have been named the ‘world’s most hated company’ by the Independent newspaper for their long list of environmental and human rights crimes for which they are being opposed all over the world.
5. Chidambaram acted as counsel for Vedanta Ltd in a case regarding the illegal expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery. The judgment was in favour of SSNP. Vedanta Ltd vs Shenzhen Shandong Nuclear Power, pronounced on 31 August, 2018. High Court of Delhi, FAO(OS) (COMM) 35/2018 & CM APPLS. 8307/2018 & 11962/2018.