Indigenous Group Hid More Than $2M Of Payments From Adani

Aboriginal Affairs, Australian Politics, Business, Mining, Rundown

The federal court uncovered more than $2M worth of unaccounted payments made by Adani Mining Company to Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation.  Court records showed how Kyburra discreetly funnelled funds straight to its directors’ accounts and undeclared their financial statements from 2014 to 2016.

Andrew Morell, a Juru traditional owner wrote in 2015 a letter to Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (Oric) stating Kyburra directors’ rejection of his membership application and appeal to be involved in traditional decision-making processes of Adani deals.  This letter was not tendered at the court hearing but was submitted as evidence.

“By abandoning this decision-making process (Kyburra) are effectually not acting in the best interests of the Juru common law holders as by holding meetings in multiple places over multiple days, how can the traditional decision-making processes be upheld, seeing as the first step in the process is to call a meeting for all families [claim group] to attend,” Morrell wrote.

In 2016, a lawyer of disgruntled traditional owners who are members of Kyburra also wrote to ORIC requesting for an investigation. “In our submission, Kyburra actually received monies from Adani Mining Pty Ltd … in the amount of $1,225,000. In addition … Adani transferred $825,000 to Kyburra for cultural heritage survey activities,” the letter states.

“Further, our clients advise that the surveys are conducted by directors alone – about six directors would be present at any survey – with a daily rate of approximately $1,000 paid individually to them.

“Our clients are suspicious of similar secret payments by Adani on behalf of Kyburra.” The letter was also submitted to the court in the proceedings but not tendered at the hearing.

Court proceedings led to last month’s ruling that acknowledges another indigenous enterprise, Juru Enterprises Limited as the new “nominated body” to represent traditional landowners. Therefore, Adani will have to consult and seek approval on any plans or works near sacred sites from Juru.

With regard to the court ruling, Adani claimed that they have no prior knowledge of the financial mismanagements of Kyburra including “secret payments” and that issues only came to light through court proceedings.