In 1985, French secret service sinks a ship by planting a mine to its hull in New Zealand. In 2011, a German spy is caught with scanned maps of all nuclear plant and uranium mining locations in India. In 2012, the Manmohan Singh government is rocked with a scandal that eventually took down the government two years later in 2014 amid concerns of massive corruption. In March 2016, the personal Gmail account of a former White House chief of staff is leaked to the whole world. Two days ago (on August 16, 2017) excerpts from an Indian customs intelligence notice detailing a Rs 1500 crore (US$235m) fraud is published for the very first time.

These are not random events. There is a thread that connects them all – the narrative of India’s coal industry and an international secret network trying to sabotage it. Unknown to Indians, this secretive network is laying the groundwork for what they expect will be the biggest environmental protest movement in history. Although various aspects of this massive network have been exposed before, it is in Australia that we get an insight into their real-time operations.

The foot-soldiers

Big Coal regularly attempts to infiltrate environment groups. We’re going to infiltrate them back!

One of India’s largest multinational conglomerates, the Adani Group has been chosen to develop the proposed thermal coal mine in the north of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland, Australia. The mine has drawn immense controversy about its claimed economic benefits, its financial viability, plans for government subsidy and the damaging environmental impacts. Broadly, these have been described as its potential impact upon the Great Barrier Reef, groundwater at its site and its carbon emissions. Various environmental groups have been ferociously protesting against the project and the company as well. One such is the green group – Galilee Blockade.

Galilee Blockade has been urging their 12,000 supporters to apply for jobs at Adani so they can obtain sensitive information for use against it in their campaigns. The strategy is to infiltrate, spy and expose Adani and anyone who works for a public relations firm, lobbying firm, or political party that deals with Adani.

Message on the Galilee Blockade website.

In this infiltration mission the group is aided by industry insiders to train them and get appropriate qualifications to join the industry. The group has conducted security checks around Australia on almost 400 potential candidates who could be actively involved in this campaign. They share strategy via encrypted messaging, leave phones out of the room during important meetings and withhold the closely guarded information even from their families. The group is highly alert of the possibility of infiltration by police or others among their members.

For concerned citizens taking on a multi-billionaire to protect the environment might not be a bad thing to do – except for a little ignored fact. The industry insider aiding the group is none other than Adani’s rival in Australia – Rio Tinto Group.

During the mining boom Rio Tinto signed a deal with Adani to use Abbot Point Coal Terminal to export coal that it never dug out of the ground. This resulted in Rio Tinto paying a heavy bill to Adani after announcing its desire to exit the sector.

The ring leaders

‘If you’re in bed with Adani, you’re a target’

Among the group’s ranks are veterans who took part in past campaigns – against the Franklin dam, the Jabiluka uranium mine and those who sank the coal seam gas industry in New South Wales.

The key figureheads are two women. One is an IT specialist with two decades’ experience working for government and the corporate sector. According to Guardian Australia she has compiled a ‘voluminous list of companies and lobbying organisations to be targeted.’ The list ‘stretches across every capital Australian city through to regional centres and to Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.’

The public face of Galilee Blockade is a Brisbane-based activist Ben Pennings. At the age of 20 he sailed on a ship called Rainbow Warrior 2. It takes its name from the original Rainbow Warrior that was sunk in the port of Auckland, New Zealand by French intelligence operatives in an operation codenamed Opération Satanic. It was on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa in the Pacific Ocean administered by France. The ship belonged to Greenpeace and Pennings was inducted into its “security culture”.

If you’re in bed with Adani in any major way, you’re a target. If you’re a major contractor, you’re a target. If you’re providing finance, you’re a target. If you’re looking to provide finance, you’re a target.

– Ben pennings

It was this same Greenpeace that mobilized activists and organized massive protests against the Russian assisted Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu in 2011 – that almost stalled the project. Virtually everyone rubbished Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s claim at the time when he said that the “foreign hand” was working against India’s interests – the claim that was later confirmed by the Intelligence Bureau.

According to the secret Intelligence Bureau document in possession of GreatGameIndia the protests were spear-headed by Ohio State University funded, SP Udaykumar, and a host of Western-funded NGOs. The larger conspiracy was unraveled when a German national provided Udaykumar a scanned map of all nuclear plant and uranium mining locations in India. The map included contact details of 50 Indian anti-nuclear activists revealing an intricate Network aimed to ‘take-down’ India’s nuclear program through NGO activism.

An enquiry of Udaykumar had revealed a deep and growing connection with US and German entities. In July 2010, Udaykumar received an unsolicited contract from the Kirwan Institute for Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, USA as a Consultant on “Group, Race, Class and Democracy issues through NGOs”. He was paid $21,120 upto June 2011 in a US bank account in his name and was contracted to earn another $17,600 upto April 2012 for fortnightly reports. These reports were significant in the fact that they were very brief lists of three general articles or books purported to have been read in the past fortnight, none relating to anti-nuclear activism, his main interest.

As a result, Udaykumar’s contact in Germany, one Sonntag Rainer Hermann (German national) was deported from Chennai on February 27, 2012. Hermann’s laptop contained a scanned map of India with 16 nuclear plants (existing or proposed) and five uranium mine locations marked prominently. The map also included contact details of 50 Indian anti-nuclear activists hand-written on small slips of paper along with a Blackberry PIN graph. The map was sent via email to five prominent anti-nuclear activists, including Udaykumar.

Map acquired from a German spy by the Intelligence Bureau with 16 nuclear plants (existing or proposed) and five uranium mine locations marked prominently.

Sustained analysis revealed that the name slips on the map were hand-written in order to avoid possible detection by text search algorithms said to be installed at e-gateways. The map clearly indicated the involvement of an organized agency and/or a highly professional, well-funded entity, which expends considerable effort in masking its origins.

Based on the above enquiry, network analysis of all anti-nuclear NGO activity in India revealed the existence of

  1. One ‘Super Network’ (prominently driven by Greenpeace and renowned activists) and
  2. Five ‘Territorial Networks’ based out of
    1. Tamil Nadu (Idinthakarai, District Tirunelveli),
    2. Kerala (Trivandrum),
    3. Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad),
    4. Gujarat (Ahmedabad),
    5. Meghalaya (Shillong)

The strategists

Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal exposed this foreign hand while talking to The Australian. He said that the legal challenges to the Carmichael coal project were “revealed to have been funded by multi-million-dollar foundations in the US”.

Providing more details the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk questioned the links between “the Australian groups, through their US funders, to the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic election campaign, John Podesta”.

The former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott accusing the environmentalists of green sabotage said “there has been a campaign to use environmental laws to sabotage this project and the whole coal industry in Australia”.

The source of information for these individuals are the 20,000 pages of leaked emails of the personal Gmail account of the former White House chief of staff and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, John Podesta published by WikiLeaks. It was WikiLeaks that exposed this highly orchestrated group of Australian environmental activists secretly funded by the US. This is Russia’s revenge for the disruption of its nuclear project in India (Wikileaks is believed to be a Russian intelligence operation by the security establishment of US and EU countries).

The emails show that the funders included the Sandler Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation, the Tilia Fund, the Growald Family Fund and the Flora Family Foundation.

It was revealed that the US-based Sandler Foundation funded Australia-based environmentalist group, the Sunrise Project, which offered “Wangan and Jagalingou people” financial support and scholarships if they opposed Adani’s mine project. It was revealed that Sunrise tailored its advice to indigenous communities in northern Queensland, and that the “whole Galilee Basin fossil fuel industrial complex is in its death throes”.

The executive director of the Sunrise Project, John Hepburn’s email to the Foundation also mocked the coal industry for the claim “there is some kind of foreign-funded and tightly orchestrated conspiracy to systemically destroy the Australian coal industry”.

It was revealed that United States had been covertly funding Australian anti-coal activists with the knowledge and approval of Johhn Podesta. The US money was designed to bankroll a strategy developed years ago by green activists to “stop Australia’s coal export boom”. The focus of these efforts was to “run legal challenges that delay, limit or stop all of the major infrastructure projects (mines, rail and ports)”. A particular priority target was Adani coalmine in central Queensland.

The Adani money laundering case

In February this year Environmental Justice Australia and Earthjustice compiled a detailed report summarizing Adani’s track record, based on publicly available evidence and research into hundreds of court documents called #AdaniFiles and published on a website of the same name. Adani Group’s fraudulent activities were reported by Indian journalists as well, chief among them is Paranjoy Guha Thakurta who exposed Adani’s many scams. In July this year after intimidation by Adani’s lawyers Paranjoy resigned as Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly owing to differences with the management.

Just a month after Paranjoy’s resignation excerpts from an Indian customs intelligence notice detailing a Rs 1500 crore (US$235m) fraud by Adani is published for the very first time by the Guardian. Although news of the investigation was first reported by Paranjoy three years ago, but the full customs intelligence document reveals forensic details of the workings of the alleged fraud which have not been publicly revealed.

The 97-page file accuses the Adani Group of ordering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment for an electricity project in western India’s Maharashtra state using a front company in Dubai.

The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) file, compiled in 2014, maps out a complex money trail from India through South Korea and Dubai, and eventually to an offshore company in Mauritius allegedly controlled by Vinod Shantilal Adani, the older brother of Gautam Adani. Investigators calculated the total assessable value of the allegedly marked-up invoices to be nearly 15bn rupees.

Excerpt from the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) file published by the Guardian.

The case is currently before a legal authority, the Adjudicating Authority and a decision is expected shortly. Indian officials are pressing either to seize assets they regard as being connected to money laundering or to levy a fine up to three times the sum allegedly siphoned overseas. The targeting of Paranjoy, EPW and the Wire seems more likely the case of sending an indirect signal to influence the case against Adani. If the authorities do not rule in favor of Adani, the group may have to pay a hefty fine of almost Rs 45 billion to the Indian government.

It should be understood that it is not just the Australian coal industry that is on the target. Similar movements are at play in other countries as well including India. It is a tragedy for India that while the anti-coal lobby is actively pursuing to sabotage India’s coal industry, an Indian power company is laundering huge sums of money to tax havens to evade taxes and inflating invoices resulting directly in higher power prices for Indian consumers.

The full extent of this anti-coal lobby’s penetration into India is detailed in a secret Intelligence Bureau document in possession of GreatGameIndia to be published in the next part.

References:

  1. Get a job with Adani and infiltrate coal project, activists urge supporters
  2. Adani coalmine activists gear up to fight: ‘This will dwarf the Franklin blockade’
  3. Work for Adani to Save the Reef!
  4. Foreign-funded anti-coal activists risk driving India away
  5. Restrictions needed on overseas charities funding legal battles
  6. The Podesta Emails
  7. Take-or-pay coal contracts puts hefty dent in bottom line
  8. Wikileaks is a ‘hostile intelligence service helped by Russia,’ says CIA director Mike Pompeo
  9. The plot behind ‘Sabotage Kudankulam’
  10. How Adani Siphoned Off Rs. 1493,84,72,484 From India To Tax Havens
  11. How India’s Biggest Corporate Houses Are Using Expensive Lawsuits To Silence Criticism
  12. #AdaniFiles – Short History Of An Allegedly Dangerous & Criminal Organization
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Shelley Kasli
Shelley Kasli is the Co-founder and Editor at GreatGameIndia, a quarterly journal on geopolitics and international affairs. He can be reached at shelley.kasli@greatgameindia.com

4 COMMENTS

  1. Good article right up to the point of reading “(Wikileaks is believed to be a Russian intelligence operation by the security establishment of US and EU countries).” Which is widely know to not be true, thus making me wonder about the validity of the entire article.

  2. Even certain Christian charity churches were also involved in the Kudankulam sabotage. We were already tracking them at the time. Can I get a crisp copy of the map provided above.

  3. […] This is a follow up article of the investigations carried out three years ago by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta published by Economic and Political Weekly titled Power Tariff Scam Gets Bigger at Rs 50,000 crore. In July this year after intimidation by Adani’s lawyers for his reporting of Adani’s many scams, Paranjoy resigned from EPW. A detailed report called the #AdaniFiles that summarizes the mining giant Adani’s track record, based on publicly available evidence and research into hundreds of court documents can be read here – #AdaniFiles – Short History Of An Allegedly Dangerous & Criminal Organization. Read our follow-up story on the issue here – Inside The Secret Network Trying To Sabotage India’s Coal Industry. […]

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