🌏 India’s most valued company hit by scandal
Plus: Greece’s prime minister faces a no-confidence vote
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Today’s edition is a 4.5 min read:
- 🇮🇳 A small investment firm takes on an Indian goliath.
- 🇬🇷 Greece’s prime minister faces a no-confidence vote.
- ➕ Plus: A major discovery on this day in 1820, how the papers are covering Rwanda firing at a DRC jet, and some suggestions for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
– VC & EP
🗺️ AROUND THE WORLD
- 🇵🇰 Pakistan: Pakistan’s currency tumbled on Thursday (26 January) after monetary authorities removed a series of controls designed to artificially inflate the rupee’s value.
- 🇪🇬 Egypt: The Suez Canal registered a record revenue of $8B in 2022 as cargo volume rose from its pandemic slump (and the Ever Given debacle).
- 🇱🇰 Sri Lanka: China has offered Sri Lanka a two-year moratorium on its debt payments and pledged to support the country’s efforts to secure an IMF loan. Sri Lanka had defaulted on its sovereign debt last year.
- 🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago: Trinidadian authorities are offering to pay Venezuela in humanitarian supplies for the development of a joint gas field. The offer is aimed at circumventing US sanctions on cash payments to the Maduro government.
- 🇳🇴 Norway: The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, has divested from two Indian and Chinese companies selling weapons to Myanmar’s military junta.
🇮🇳 INDIA | BUSINESS
Scandal rocks India’s Adani Group as the huge conglomerate is accused of fraud
Briefly: It’s been a tough week for Gautam Adani, the tycoon at the helm of India’s largest conglomerate. On Wednesday (25 January), activist investor firm Hindenburg Research* accused his company of “pulling the largest con in corporate history“, leading traders to sell large volumes of stocks (Adani fell to fourth on the list of world’s wealthiest people 😣).
The report claims that the Adani Group has engaged in stock manipulation and accounting fraud for decades, in addition to operating a labyrinth of shell companies and working diligently to silence critics.
Adani Group has denied the allegations and labelled the report a “malicious combination of selective misinformation”.
Some context: Adani Group isn’t any old conglomerate. It controls leading businesses in vital Indian industries – agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and defence – and has close ties to India’s PM (Gautam Adani is sometimes referred to as ‘Modi’s Rockefeller’).
The market angle: This scandal may prove a pivotal moment for the Indian economy. As Bloomberg columnist Andy Mukherjee explains, Hindenburg’s report “raises many questions about the integrity of the broader Indian market, which is caught between the pressures of financial globalization and political nationalism.”
Intrigue’s take: The links between Adani, his empire, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are difficult to deny. Since Modi came into office, Adani’s net worth has grown 60x, thanks in part to lucrative government contracts. To date, the two powerful men have enjoyed a mutually-beneficial relationship. But if the allegations are confirmed, Modi’s opposition will surely use them as ammunition ahead of next year’s general election.
Also worth noting:
- Narendra Modi boasts an approval rating over 70% as of January 2023.
- Companies targeted by Hindenburg Research investigations have seen their stocks decline by 26% (on average) within six months after being named and shamed.
*Hindenburg Research is indeed named after the Hindenburg blimp disaster of 1937. Very apt and yet a little unsettling.
📰 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
How different newspapers covered: Rwanda shooting at a DRC fighter jet it claims entered its airspace.
Links: New Times, Actualite, The Standard
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🇬🇷 GREECE | SCANDAL
Greek prime minister is unlikely to face consequences for wiretapping scandal
Briefly: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will face a no-confidence vote today for his alleged involvement in a major wiretapping scheme. The no-confidence measure was submitted by opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, who served as prime minister from 2015-2019.
‘Watergate’ on the Aegean: In August, with rumours swirling, Mitsotakis admitted that Greece’s national intelligence service (EYP) had bugged a top political rival’s phone. Mitsotakis denies knowing about the scheme, even though the agency is under his direct ministerial supervision and was managed until August by his nephew.
Tsipras added to Mitsotakis’ headache this week, when he confirmed that EYP also targeted the sitting labour minister and several members of Greece’s armed forces.
Intrigue’s take: Mitsotakis’ party controls 156 of 300 seats in the Greek Parliament, so he is unlikely to lose the no-confidence vote. He’s also unlikely to lose his premiership during elections this spring, according to opinion polls. That neither Parliament nor the wider polity seems willing to hold him accountable could be a threat to Greece’s rule of law.
Also worth noting:
- In June, the Israel-based NSO Group said at least five EU countries were using its Pegasus spyware (EYG used Predator spyware from Cytrox, a Macedonia-based firm).
- Before the spying revelations, Mitsotakis was celebrated for his pro-European stance and strong stewardship of the Greek economy.
📜 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Russian explorers discover Antartica…
Six months after launching from the city of Kronstadt, Russian naval captain Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen became the first (known) person to see the continent of Antarctica on this day in 1820.
Unbeknownst to Bellingshausen, other explorers were hot on his trail. On 30 January, the British ship HMS Slaney spotted the Southern Continent, followed ten months later by the American Hero.
Since those competitive early days, a spirit of cooperation has largely prevailed in Antarctica thanks to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. But as geopolitical competition returns to the Arctic, some worry the Antarctic could also be in danger soon.
👀 EXTRA INTRIGUE
In honour of Holocaust Remembrance Day, here are some suggestions from the Intrigue Team on how to spend the day with intention. If you have…
- 5 minutes: Read the poem ‘If This is a Man‘ by Holocaust survivor Primo Levi.
- 15 minutes: Scroll through the Yad Vashem Collection of art.
- 1 hour: Take a virtual tour of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum.
🗳️ POLL TIME!
Are you worried about the proliferation of domestic spyware?
Yesterday’s poll: Who’s gonna take home the Oscar for Best Picture?
🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🛩️ Top Gun: Maverick (21%)
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🔮 Everything Everywhere All at Once (54%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🌊 Avatar: The Way of Water (7%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🎤 Elvis (6%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🛳️ Triangle of Sadness (5%)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🎥 Other (7%)
Your two cents:
- 🎥 M.V: I really like Im Westen nachts Neues (‘All Quiet on the Western Front’) as it remains still so valid today.”
- 🎥 M.D: “I am hoping that The Banshees of Inisherin take it home.”
- 🔮 L.S: “Watched it!!!!!! Loved It!!! Great Idea and better actors!!! Recommend it a lot!!!”