Vedanta Resources PLC Chief Executive Officer MS Mehta
Vedanta Resources PLC Chief Executive Officer MS Mehta

PRESS RELEASE 16th July 2014.

********* Under embargo until 20.30 hours 21st July 2014 ********

MPs HEAR EVIDENCE FOR DE-LISTING DODGY UK MINER VEDANTA RESOURCES & OTHERS

  • Speakers tell MPs how high risk mining companies like Vedanta Resources are bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Fresh evidence of Vedanta’s criminal behaviour and tax evasion in India and Zambia revealed.
  • UK’s role in protecting and assisting Vedanta is detailed.
  • Speakers call for tighter regulation of the London Stock Exchange and the immediate investigation and trial of Vedanta Resources

Speakers from Foil Vedanta(1) and London Mining Network(2) today presented evidence in the House of Commons on the criminal behaviour of some London Listed mining companies, and called for better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies. Focusing on contentious UK miner Vedanta Resources, they exposed new evidence of tax evasion, illegal land grabs, displacement, major pollution and water poisoning, as well as the UK’s role in promoting and protecting the company, and called for its immediate investigation and potential de-listing in London.

In a meeting hosted by John McDonnell MP in the House of Commons last  evening speakers told MPs, journalists, diplomats(3) and members of the public attending that high risk mining companies like ‘the world’s most hated company’ Vedanta Resources(4) are bringing shame on the London Stock Exchange, and demanded better accountability measures and the de-listing of criminal companies.

Miriam Rose and Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta exposed fresh evidence on the criminal activities of Vedanta, including unseen footage of Vedanta’s illegal land grab of Reserve Forest at the sacred Niyamgiri Hills, as well as interviews with people displaced by Vedanta, and now destitute, at Vedanta’s now doomed Lanjigarh refinery(5).

New testimonies from communities suffering the intergenerational effects of major water poisoning by Vedanta is Zambia, who have never been compensated(6), and disturbing footage of the 2009 chimney collapse at Vedanta subsidiary BALCO which killed at least 40 people(7) was shown.

Speakers detailed Vedanta’s tax evasion and transfer mis-pricing in Zambia(8), as well as illegal mining and export of 144 million tonnes of iron ore from Goa in 2011/12 (9).

The UK’s role in assisting and protecting this contentious mining company was exposed – from the roles of the Department for International Development (DfID) and former British High Commissioner to India Sir David Gore Booth in launching the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2003(10), to David Cameron’s personal assistance in forcing the Indian government to sell lucrative oil company Cairn India to Vedanta in 2011 (11). Cairn India are now drilling in the pristine biosphere region of the Gulf of Mannar, Sri Lanka.

The pattern of human rights abuse, environmental damage and violation of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights among London Listed mining companies was outlined by Richard Solly from London Mining Network, bringing in the mining majors Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata and Anglo American – all listed in, and theoretically accountable to, London. London Mining Network’s 2012 report ‘UK listed mining companies and the case for stricter oversight’, gives specific recommendations for the tightening of listings rules to limit these abuses.

The speakers highlighted the failure of UK listing rules to prevent poor corporate governance, noting that boss Anil Agarwal owns 69.59% of Vedanta Resources, making other shareholders essentially irrelevant in decision making, and echoed the calls of other investors to ensure a 50% free float requirement for public companies on the LSE(12). They also noted the role of British controlled tax havens in enabling insider trading, transfer mis-pricing and tax evasion on a major scale.

They critiqued the UK’s failure to regulate mining companies or hold them to account including: the UK’s rejection of ILO 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal people’s(13), the failure of ‘revenue transparency’ initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the OECD complaints system.

Finally, the speakers recommended that proper accountability measures, and recourse to justice for the victims of criminal behaviours by UK listed mining companies be introduced in London. This should include the independent auditing of company and subsidiary accounts to establish whether tax evasion is occurring.

The speakers called strongly for Vedanta Resources to be immediately investigated, trialled and potentially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for the catalogue of crimes presented by them.

Concern over London’s protection of dubious mining and resource-based companies listed on the London Stock Exchange has been a regular topic in the House of Commons over several years. In 2011 Richard Lambert, the former Director General of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), told the Financial Times;

‘It never occurred to those of us who helped to launch the FTSE 100 index 27 years ago that one day it would be providing a cloak of respectability and lots of passive investors for companies that challenge the canons of corporate governance such as Vedanta…’

Since then there have been parliamentary debates, a consultation on the role of Financial Services Authority, hundreds of Early Day Motions, and even the de-listing of contentious mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) following a Serious Fraud Office investigation which exposed major kickbacks being paid to African leaders. The Department of Business Innovation and Skills is currently carrying out a consultation on the extractive industries sector to establish the need for tighter regulation.

Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta says:

“When Vedanta launched on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 they did not have the rights to mine the sacred Niyamgiri hills, nor the environmental or social license to operate at Lanjigarh. Now we should be asking how the London Stock Exchange, JP Morgan, HSBC, and the Financial Times omitted this basic due diligence and gave Vedanta the “cloak of respectability” that comes with a London listing. Perhaps it is time to bring to trial those who are responsible for jeopardising the credibility that the City of London claims.”

Richard Solly from London Mining Network says:

“London Mining Network believes that mining companies listed on UK stock exchanges need to be regulated much more strictly. We made specific recommendations in the report we published in February 2012 and have repeated that call in the evidence we have presented to the current inquiry into extractive companies by the Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills. It is time that the British Government started taking this seriously.”

John McDonnell MP, who hosted the talk, says:

“We cannot stand by and allow London to be used as the financial base for companies that degrade our planet, exploit their workers and abuse the human rights of extremely vulnerable communities. We need to devise a comprehensive strategy to address this exploitation, on our doorstep. “

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Yet our own MPs are sleeping. By the way, Zambian MPs, as you drove to Livingstone to play football against MPs from Zimbabwe, did you not see the ditches which have developed on the road from Mazabuka to Siavonga junction? Can you push the Executive in Parliament to push State House based RDA work on that road before people lose lives.

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    • Three quarters of those MPs in Zambian Parimament are old or semi educated. Their reasoning is perpendicular to their bellies. We need fresh and young leadership to take this country forward. These old folks ain’t good for our development

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    • Can you tell us what exactly MPs should do? They are legislators. They cannot force the Executive to build particular roads. Neither can they force Chibesakunda out from the Supreme Court for acting beyond the stipulated period. The only branch of government that can fix Vedanta is the Executive. Please understand that a Presidential system that Zambia has is quite different from the British Parliamentary and therefore the amount of influence MPs have in each case is not the same. Blame Sata not MPs . Stop shifting the blame.

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  2. It is disheartening to hear some of the people on the forensic audit committee to suggest that KCM should not be nationalised in light of these new revelation about Vendetta. This company is hated all over the world and yet here they are being glorified as investors. Please GRZ act by nationalising KCM before we loose more money to this crooks from India

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    • First that crook that showed Vedanta how to avoid taxes and externalise the profits, Mahtani must be put in jail where he belongs!

      Ooops, I forgot, he is Satas best friend!

      Maybe that is why he is so sick. Dying from his allergy to CORRUPTION!

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  3. @Bwalya chiselema Chisushi, listen my friend. It was the educated late Mwanawasa, Magande and others who sold KCM and others mines for a song. Their were also beneficiaries in their own pockets. This has nothing to do with being educated we mbushi yamuntu wee!

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  4. And our ZRA is conducting its own lengthy investigations with all this overwhelming evidence at their disposal which is practically free.
    This is why we are poor as a people yet rich in reasources one has to just look at the number of contributions on this article and what is also being debated in National Assembly.
    Zambians wake up! !

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  5. This explains the caliber of elected MPs needed to run the affairs of the nation. If we continue to vote for people who are incapable to understand ‘FTSE index’ or operations a Stock Exchange, the country will continue to lose investiment opportunities. This where UNPD leader HH is in today’s political complex environment the best candidate to lead Zambia.

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    • Yes HH on paper appears the best at the moment. My only cocern though is that he has no record to refer to politically. They all promised us so much but lamentably failed us a moment they ascended to plot one. Think of it. Kaunda, Chiluba, maybe Mwanawasa. And now Anyway? Agreed as of now HH still remains the best candidate for 2016> Wishing him the best of God’s guidance

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  6. This Vendata firm is irresponsible, and at the risk of sounding racist, but you can not entrust your valuable resources to Indians and expect a fair return. Look at Kamwala, it is probably the richest area per sq. meter in Zambia in terms of trading and cash at hand (forget your Manda Hill or Arcades) but look at the surroundings, look at the employees, look at the shops, they would easily fit in the Lusaka of 1920’s. I am yet to meet someone working for an Indian and is happy and full of praises of his boss. Our own richest Indian is ever being sued and counter suing, grabbing companies and everything in between. So, those who sold KCM have egg on their face and best they can do is make scrambled and eat it

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  7. We should be asking ourselves how the Zambian voice is being represented by foreign organisations. Cn we trust that the Foil Vedanta and London Mining Network, who do not experience the daily living of average Zambian are speaking on behalf of our country and in our best interests

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  8. @Aquilla, Zedian and MUFASA. You think most Zambian MPs care about such important issues? All they are interested in is there own welfare! A classic example is opposition MPs demanding increased allowances plus retirement packages because they fear becoming destitute after their terms end.

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  9. Zambians we are very good at opening up our mouths loudly yapping and we lack better skills for analysis. First most of the multi- national companies especially in mining, food and drinks, google, oil and many more are just doing the same even in UK with very advanced technologies and manpower are able to avoid paying tax. In my view, Zambia on it own can and will not be able to get a fair share. These companies create sister companies in safe havens and to go on them it’s harder. Glencore lied but was exposed the town where its headquarters is, benefits more than where the get goods. If Zambians are up to date with the tricks implored by Vedanta, Zambians with broad understanding of mining operations have been appointed by govt to assist the govt/ Zambians but these individuals they…

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  10. ” In my view, Zambia on it own can and will not be able to get a fair share. ”

    One answer is nationalisation. Another is a stiff windfall tax at the point of production.

    There are a lot of options, if the ministers in question have not been bought off.

    There are too many individuals in government who hold irrational opinions they would not have if they weren’t paid to have those opinions.

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  11. God help us as we have a bunch of selfish individuals in parliament that are only interested in amassing wealth for themselves. I hope they all lose come 2016. We need to ursher in new people that are dedicated to improving the welfare of others. Unfortunately, our land has no such individuals….only LPM had the heart for the people.

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  12. I dont understand how we can allow a foreign organisation to speak for us. We need to deal with the facts on the grounds. As Zambians we should be the ones resolving the issues in our economy. What interests will be served in a British parliament?

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  13. This is a sad indictment of Foil Vedanta and The Lusaka Times. The meeting you allege to be reporting will not take place until Monday – how on earth can Lusaka Times reports statements that have not yet been made? You lack credibility..

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