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FinCEN Files — In alert on shell firms, NY bank flags transfers to Adani from Seychelles

Adani Gobal PTE, the Singapore-based global arm of the Adani Group, crops up in a clutch of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed to FinCEN, the top US financial watchdog, that red-flag the subject of shell companies and their use in money laundering activities in the tax haven of Seychelles.

These SARs, investigated by The Indian Express, form part of Bank of New York Mellon’s (BNYM) tracking of suspect transactions related to several companies.

One lists “suspicious” transactions to and from “shell-like” entities in Seychelles between 2005 and 2014 with total remittances at $6.24 billion. The next year, another SAR filed by BNYM reported 1,241 fresh transactions worth $105 million carried out in January alone.

Along with several other transactions for companies located in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Russia, the SARs have details of transactions between Thionville Financier Ltd, an investment company with addresses in Mahe and Victoria in Seychelles, with Adani Global PTE.

Records show details of several wire transfers totaling $14.46 million being received by the Adani firm from this Seychelles entity.

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When asked about these transactions, an Adani Group spokesperson told The Indian Express: “Our commercial transactions with Thionville Financier Limited is completely legitimate and the same have been fully disclosed to the authorities in the respective jurisdiction.”

Interestingly, in its SAR filed in 2013, BNYM reported that the website of Thionville Financier Ltd was “under construction.” Seven years later, the announcement for its website remains the same.

Records investigated by The Indian Express show that four wire transfers totaling $5.6 million were made to Adani Golbal PTE’s Trust and Retention account at ICICI Bank in Singapore in July 2013. In its SAR, BNYM underlined that in addition to the shell-like nature of the sender (Thionville Financier Ltd), the wire transfers looked “suspicious” since they were sent in “high round-dollar amounts.” (Round-dollar amounts refer to transactions rounded off to exact hundred or thousand, like 50,000 or 100,000).

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Another set of remittances from Thionville to Adani Global PTE are for the month of June in 2013 and the same banking channels have been used. This time, within one week, two wires were sent by Thionville to the Adani company totaling $2.8 million.

The most recent transactions between the two companies, flagged in an SAR, are for January 2015 when Thionville, using its Standard Chartered Bank account, sent three wires to Adani Global PTE totaling $6.06 million.

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On shell companies located in places like Seychelles, the SAR noted how they were “easy to form, inexpensive to operate, and are structured in a manner designed to conceal the transactional details of the entities. The use of shell entities provides an opportunity for foreign or domestic entities to move money by means of wire transfers, whether directly or through a correspondent banking relationship without the entity owners having to disclose their true identities…”

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