Jo Johnson, the younger brother of the former prime minister Boris Johnson, has resigned as a director of a London-based investment bank allegedly linked to the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s crisis-ridden business empire.
Lord Johnson, a former Conservative minister who was given a peerage by his brother in 2020, resigned from the board of Elara Capital on Wednesday just days after Elara was accused of using Mauritius-based funds to manipulate the share price of Adani-linked companies and obscure their ultimate ownership.
Johnson, a former investment banker at Deutsche Bank and journalist for the Financial Times, joined Elara Capital in June, “in the hope of making a contribution to UK-India trade and investment ties”.
On Thursday he said he had “consistently received assurances from Elara Capital that it is compliant with its legal obligations and in good standing with regulatory bodies”.
“At the same time, I now recognise that this is a role that requires greater domain expertise in specialised areas of financial regulation than I anticipated and, accordingly, I have resigned from the board,” he said in an emailed statement.
Elara has been accused by short-seller investment firm Hindenburg Research of helping Adani Group companies in an alleged share price manipulation and accounting fraud.
Elara did not respond to a request for comment. Adani Group has denied the allegations, which it described as a “malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, baseless and discredited allegations”.
The company has published a 413-page response to the allegations raised by Hindenburg.
Before the accusations published last week on Twitter, Adani, 60, was the world’s third-richest person, with an estimated $119.5bn (£97bn) fortune. He has fallen to 11th place in the daily updated Bloomberg billionaires' index after a personal wealth wipeout of $34bn in just four days of trading since the accusations were published.
Earlier on Thursday, Adani Group abandoned a $2.4bn share sale as its shares continued to fall. The collapse in the price of Adani’s quoted companies has exceeded more than US$100bn.
Breaking his silence on the crisis, Gautam Adani released a video to investors in which he said it would “not be morally correct” to pursue the share sale.
It is the second time Johnson has quit a position at a financial firm in recent months. In December he resigned from a role advising Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.