FOI reveals government found Adani “may have been negligent” in approval process

Adani “may have been negligent” when it failed to disclose its CEO’s links to four earlier environmental offences, according to documents released under Freedom of Information. 

[FOI brief in PDF below]

Adani’s CEO in Australia, Mr Janakaraj, was an ‘executive officer’ of a Zambian mining company when it was charged with polluting a river and willfully not reporting it. But Adani did not disclose this when the Department asked about the environmental history of Adani’s directors, instead becoming aware via a letter from Environmental Justice Australia.

The new documents obtained by Freedom of Information by The Australia Institute show the Department told the Minister Adani may have been negligent. The issue was not pursued further.

The Department noted its new investigation found “criminal charges relating to forgery and fraud, and allegations relating to conspiracy, corruption and money laundering” but disregarded this as overseas and not relevant to Adani’s “environmental history”.

Instead Adani was “reminded of its obligations” and the information was kept on file to inform future decisions relating to Adani under Commonwealth environmental law.

Adani told the Department it had thought Mr Janakaraj’s role as Director of Operations at the Zambian company did not make him an ‘executive officer’. But Adani previously stated Mr Janakaraj was Chief Executive Officer at that time.

“Adani’s mea culpa letter is redacted as confidential; Adani claims release would damage their interests,” The Australia Institute Executive Director, Ben Oquist said.

“The Department argued it would be difficult to prove Adani mislead in order to benefit.

“This information and these red flags should be looked at in a future review for Adani’s license,” Oquist said.

The FOI also shows the Minister had already considered “significant environmental harm that had been caused by the organisation’s operation overseas” and environmental non-compliances in Queensland, included taking quarry material from crown land without approval (resulting in two infringement penalties), disturbances requiring rehabilitation, effluent leakages and delayed reporting of uncontrolled fires.

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