Friday 31 March 2023

Tycoon who wants to build a dry canal in Costa Rica in trouble for alleged fraud

The project would eliminate the vehicular traffic of heavy trucks, a major problem for Costa Rica's infrastructure.

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31 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – India’s billionaire and industrialist, Gautam Adani, who until last week was the world’s third richest and who has expressed an interest in building a dry interoceanic canal in Costa Rica, is in trouble over allegations of alleged fraud.

Gautam Shantilal Adani is an Indian billionaire industrialist who is the chairman and founder of Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate involved in port development and operations in India.

Adani’s interest in the Costa Rica project was communicated directly to Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves when the two men met in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum.

Since last January 24, the billionaire faces criticism following a report by US-based investment firm Hindenburg Research accusing the Adani group of decades of “brazen” stock manipulation and accounting fraud.

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Hinderburg accuses Adani of using a “nationalist narrative” to combine his success with that of “India itself.” According to the document, the Adani group carries out a “blatant manipulation of shares and an accounting fraud scheme” that extends over the last decades.

Following the report, Adani’s market losses swelled above US$100 billion on Thursday, sparking worries about a potential systemic impact a day after the Indian group’s flagship firm abandoned its US$2.5 billion stock offering.

In Switzerland, in mid-January, Adani had the opportunity to meet with Chaves. “Mr. Adani wants to invest in infrastructure in Costa Rica,” Chaves briefly said on this subject at the time.

The meeting in Switzerland. Casa Presidencial

Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Adani’s interest in Costa Rica is a Dry Canal.

“Mr. Adani expressed interest in exploring project options with Costa Rica, especially the Canal Seco project and positioning Costa Rica as an operations center for projects in Latin America (…) It would be expected that, like any project, it would be an opportunity for productivity and the generation of direct and indirect jobs in Costa Rica and in the region, in times of economic recovery. We hope to coordinate a possible visit of Mr. Adani in Costa Rica by 2023,” the Costa Rican ambassador to India, Claudio Ansorena, through a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

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The idea of a Dry Canal usually consists of a pair of large ports, one located on the Pacific Ocean and the other on the Caribbean Sea, two sets of railway lines with sufficient travel speed and cargo capacity, with a series of logistical facilities to accelerate the exchange of merchandise between one side and the other.

The project would eliminate the vehicular traffic of heavy trucks, a major problem for Costa Rica’s infrastructure.

A dry canal would compete with the Panama Canal. Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua have promoted similar plans.

Adani Group is also the largest producer and marketer of thermal coal in India.

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Although the idea of building an interoceanic dry canal could be exciting because of the economic returns and the attraction of investment that this could bring to the country, infrastructure experts warn that it is necessary to carry out a detailed feasibility study, since the project is very complex.


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