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Adani Group paying $30 million for the port deal to Myanmar military-controlled firm, alleges report.

The Adani Group denied last month that it was working with military leaders to get the port approved.

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The pressure on foreign companies operating in Myanmar has increased since the February 1 coup and violent crackdown on protestors.

According to ABC News, India’s Adani Group is in a bind when it comes to building a port in Yangon’s main city through a lease agreement with Myanmar Economic Corporation, a military conglomerate.

The Adani Group denied last month that it was working with military leaders to get the port approved. “We categorically deny having engaged with military leadership while receiving this approval or thereafter,” the statement said 

However, videos and photos accessed by ABC reveal that Adani Ports chief executive Karan Adani had in July 2019 met Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief who led the coup against the elected government. Some generals, including Hlaing,were then already under United States human rights sanctions for their role in a campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority, which sparked a refugee crisis in 2017. 

According to leaked documents obtained by ABC News from the Yangon Region Investment Commission, the Adani Group is paying $30 million to the Myanmar Economic Corporation in “land lease payments.”

According to a statement on the Treasury Department’s website, the US placed sanctions on the Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited on March 25. The step by Washington freezes all assets owned by the companies in the United States and targets Myanmar’s military’s business interests.

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Hlaing and other current and former high-ranking officials in the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is called, have considerable influence over the two holding companies and their subsidiaries.

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The Myanmar Economic Corporation is likely to get another $22 million as “land clearance fees” for the port despite these international developments, said a joint report by the Australian Centre for International Justice and activist group Justice For Myanmar.

The author of the report and human rights lawyer Rawan Arraf told ABC News that the documents were leaked after the coup last month.

“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,” Arraf said. “Adani has been put on notice several times publicly, and they’ve refused to disengage from their Myanmar deal with [MEC] and that’s a real problem.”

Arraf added that the funds from Adani Group could also be used by the Myanmar military for international crimes.

 

A 2019 United Nations study named Adani Ports as one of the companies that have worked with the military conglomerate. Due to human rights violations, the study advised international companies not to do business with the military.

“The issue for Australia and Australians is whether we want to be hosting a business that is contributing to the enrichment of the Myanmar military,” said Australian lawyer Chris Sidoti, who was part of a United Nations fact-finding mission to Myanmar in 2019. Adani Ports’ participation in another foreign project, the Abbot Point coal terminal in Québec, was brought up by Sidoti.

“The issue for Adani investors is whether they want to fund Myanmar military operations since that is what they are indirectly doing by investing in Adani,” Sidoti added.

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The US restrictions have also increased pressure on Australia’s Future Fund to withdraw its $3.2 million investment in Adani Ports. However, a representative for the Future Fund confirmed that they have no intention to cancel the agreement. “Where the federal government imposes sanctions, the Potential Fund – as one would expect – follows suit,” she said.

 

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