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The South Asian Insider

Who is George Soros and what is his link to Adani Group's troubles?

After he waded into the Hindenburg Research report row, George Soros again has a shadowy presence as another report questions the Adani Group's business dealings. Here's a look at billionaire-philanthropist Soros and his Open Society Foundations.
First it was the Hindenburg Research, and now, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). It's the second time in seven months that the Adani Group is facing allegations of using dubious means for business gains. And both times there is a shadow of billionaire-philanthropist George Soros.

A Jew who survived the Nazi Holocaust that killed 5 lakh Jewish Hungarians, George Soros has often been linked to regime changes that he and his Open Society Foundation perceive to be totalitarian. Critics perceive Soros to be an agent of chaos.
Born in 1930, George Soros had to struggle despite being born in an affluent family. Soros worked as a railway porter and waiter to fund his studies at London School of Economics.

George Soros and his Open Society Foundations have been called "agents of disruption" by a number of governments and rival groups. Soros has also been charged with being a key player in purported plots to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin, instability in the European Union through mass migration, and funding for Arab Spring protest movements, among other things.

Furthermore, Soros has been named as the one who had the crucial influence that resulted in the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He has come under fire for betting against Malaysia and Thailand's currencies, which started the crisis.

But why is George Soros's name cropping up again in the Indian context?

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) report said the Adani Group was channelling investments into publicly traded stocks via "opaque" Mauritius funds. These funds were found to mask the involvement of alleged "longtime business partners" of the Adani family.
The Adani Group has said these accusations by the OCCRP were orchestrated by interests linked to George Soros.

According to the OCCRP, it is a global network of investigative journalists which "exposes crime and corruption so the public can hold power to account".

George Soros's Open Society Foundations is one of its donors.
Short-seller Hindenburg Research released its report on January 24, accusing the Adani Group of being "engaged in a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme over the course of decades".

In February, George Soros jumped into the controversy and said PM Narendra Modi would "have to answer questions" from foreign investors and Parliament on allegations of fraud and stock manipulation at Gautam Adani's industrial empire.
The Indian conglomerate vehemently denied the allegations by Hindenburg Research. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) identified around a dozen companies as "top beneficiaries" of short-selling in Adani Group shares after the Hindenburg report.
George Soros and his organisations aren't new to controversies surrounding business groups and financial institutions.
Shorting the British pound contributed significantly to Soros' riches, garnering him the moniker "the man who destabilized the Bank of England."
He was a well-known hedge fund manager who allegedly made $1 billion by betting against the British pound. Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, and Malaysia went through severe economic downturns in 1997; Malaysia endured the worst.
According to a Bloomberg report, George Soros took daring action before the crisis by betting against the currencies of Thailand and Malaysia. Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, blamed Soros for the problem and even referred to him as "a moron" in the process.
A Bloomberg opinion piece claims that the Asian financial crisis resulted in political upheavals in a number of nations. For instance, South Korea witnessed the first election of an opposition candidate as president, and the crisis in Indonesia helped end the Suharto administration following a protracted period of economic prosperity. According to the Bloomberg article, Malaysia's Mahathir left a legacy of internal conflicts within the Malay elite despite keeping power.

The Open Society Foundations, which George Soros founded in 1984, declare their dedication to advancing the values of justice, democracy, and human rights in more than 120 countries worldwide. According to reports from 2017, Soros had recently given the organization a contribution of almost $18 billion, according to reports.
The Open Society Foundations is one of the supporters of The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which published Thursday's report against the Adani Group.
According to a Forbes report, Soros promised to donate $1 billion to create a new university network to combat the growth of nationalism during a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He blasted leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, then-U.S. President Donald Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same address.
Soros expressed his worries about India, claiming that democratically elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi was creating a Hindu nationalist state, enforcing restrictions in the semi-autonomous Muslim area of Kashmir, and running the possibility of deporting millions of Muslims.

According to its official website, George Soros' Open Society Foundation claims to have spent more than $18 billion on its activities.
Russian news outlet Sputnik said in 2016 that Soros' Open Society Foundations were coordinating attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sputnik asserted, citing documents released by DCLeaks, that Soros and his organization were using their resources and influence to stir up world unrest in order to make money off of suffering and impose neoliberal ideas on a global scale. The article covered an OSF-organized meeting of international experts who were critical of Putin in 2012 where they outlined joint goals for their efforts in Russia, including destabilization-related ones.
Additionally, Soros has been accused of inciting unrest in the US.
George Soros's name surfaced as a potential financier of the anti-Wall Street demonstrations in the United States in 2011. Although both Soros and the protesters have vehemently denied any direct connections, a Reuters investigation has shown indirect financial ties between Soros and Adbusters, a Canadian anti-capitalist organization that organized the demonstrations with goals akin to an Arab Spring-inspired insurrection against Wall Street.
Furthermore, claims imply that Soros supported the Arab Spring movement by providing funds and resources to regional groups active in the movement. The authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were successfully overthrown during the Arab Spring, which was marked by pro-democracy protests and upheavals throughout the Middle East and North Africa in 2010 and 2011.

Any comment by George Soros is sure to provoke significant reactions given the historical context and the accusations.
In a statement in February, Soros said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to respond to questions from international investors and the Parliament regarding claims of fraud and stock manipulation at Gautam Adani's industrial empire.
The Hindenburg Research report was published on January 24.
The BJP responded by criticizing Soros, claiming that he was not only targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also undermining the Indian democratic system in an effort to ensure that those he supported were in charge of the country.
"Today, as a citizen, I call upon every individual, organization, and society to denounce the intention of this individual who is seeking to weaken our democratic interests for his personal gains," Union minister Smriti Irani said.
Targeting Soros, Irani said, "He wants a government that is pliable to his needs for making his nefarious plans successful. It is evident from his statements that he has declared funding of over one billion dollars particularly to 'target' leaders like PM Modi, which is significant."
So, after featuring in the Adani-Hindenburg controversy, George Soros is back again with his shadowy presence in the latest OCCRP report against the Gautam Adani-led conglomerate. Twice in seven months.