Economy

Vedanta’s Paid Research Firm Denies Conflict of Interest

Following an exposé investigation published by Zambia Reports which examined the inner workings of Vedanta Resource’s influence campaign aimed at the Republic of Zambia over the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) dispute, Tokollo Matsabu, one of the members of the company’s hired research firm in South Africa, Eunomix, responded with attacks and threats against this publication over issues with the attribution of her article.

The results of Eunomix’s paid research were circulated widely on Vedanta propaganda platforms such as KCMToday.com, and were even tweeted by Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal, which in turn were tweeted and promoted by Eunomix CEO Claude Bassaic without disclosing the conflict of interest:

In a subsequent email Q&A with Eunomix, published in full below, the company denies that they have any conflict of interest when being paid by Vedanta to publish and comment about the KCM dispute and other mining matters in Zambia. They indicate that Vedanta’s PR firm, R&A Strategic Communications, is working with them to arrange media opportunities. According to their claims in this Q&A, Eunomix was only hired by Vedanta Resources for just one week, they were hired on the exact same day that Mr. Bassaic did media interviews on the same issue, and further that BusinessDay was informed of the author’s conflict of interest, which was not disclosed in the text of the article.

Zambia Reports is currently fact checking several issues in this account with the relevant parties and will share that information soon. Please see the full text of the email interview below:

1) When did Vedanta hire Eunomix and what is the value and duration of the contract?

The contract was finalised on 22 May 2019. The contract was for 5 days of work by 2 researchers. Eunomix charged its normal daily rate. The contract consisted of updating research work that was done in 2013 by Eunomix on the effectiveness of mining policy across Sub-Saharan Africa between 1970 and 2010, with a focus on Zambia.

2) What is the mandate of Eunomix’s engagement on behalf of Vedanta?

The mandate was as follows: “To carry out an urgent analysis of the types of socio-economic outcomes of sudden regulatory, policy and/or judicial decisions made on behalf of mining license issuers – sovereign governments as a rule – that represent de facto expropriation or spoliation of a mining operation. These socio-economic outcomes would include objective indicators like investment, production, employment, exports, tax revenues, credit ratings and profits; but also subjective indicators like business confidence, investability, perception, and so on. The analysis would focus on Zambia, but would need to include other relevant past examples for which data is available.”

The expressed and clear understanding was that while Vedanta was commissioning the research, it did not expect or want any influence over the findings. This is explicitly state in the PUBLICLY AVAILABLE report. As stated in the response to your previous question, the methodology applied was the same as the 2013 research (which was self-funded), and updated to include data through to 2017. The research commissioned by Vedanta added a comparison with Chile, a jurisdiction which produced the same amount of copper as Zambia in 1970; but who’s copper production trajectory differed significantly from that of Zambia, due to the different application of policies which could be termed “resource nationalistic”.

3) What is the Eunomix company policy with regard to the publication of commentaries in the media or sourcing of quotes on matters regarding the company’s clients?

Eunomix’s policy is to publish its research findings, unless its contracts with clients specify that this may not be done.

4) Do you believe that the failure to disclose Vedanta’s financial relationship with Eunomix in the BusinessDay article represents a violation of the Press Council’s Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media?

We are not experts on the Press Code. But we believe it applies to member media organisations only. The article was centred on our report, which was publicly available and explicit about Eunomix’s relationship with Vedanta. As regards the Op-Ed, Russel and Associates disclosed to Business Day’s editorial team that the research referred to in the article had been commissioned by Vedanta.

5) When Claude Baissac spoke with journalists from Bloomberg on 22 May 2019, did he similarly inform them of Eunomix’s conflict of interest?

There is no conflict of interest because Mr Baissac was interviewed by Bloomberg on the morning of the 22nd of May, and hired by Vedanta in the afternoon. We had no knowledge at the time of the Bloomberg interview that Vedanta was going to retain our services.

6) What is the relationship between Eunomix and R&A Strategic Communications?

Both firms do work for Vedanta. R&A helped facilitate the publication of the Business Day article. We understand that in doing so they informed the relevant staff member at Business Day that the research was commissioned by Vedanta.

7 Comments

  1. BembaNation

    This kind of dirty trickery is exactly what Vedanta always does – they lie, cheat, and steal all over the world, and shame on these vultures for taking their money to attack Zambia.

  2. MaryP

    “That (KCM) company is giving us 500 million for the last nine years and a billion on top of it!”-This is an excerpt of the speech of Anil Agarwal about his experience in Zambia and how he got the copper mines with a paltry sum!! The event was organised by the Jain International Trade Organisation’s (JITO) titled as”JITO Connect-2014″ held from 22nd to 23rd March, 2014 at Bengaluru, India. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98yKosnwb-Y

  3. Ngoma Ngoma

    Keep in mind that these people are working for murderers:

    It is a shocking display of arrogance that despite several prosecutions by the Zambian justice system, Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines continues to pollute the river Kafue and its tributaries without remorse, failing to maintain or upgrade their pollution control equipment or compensate villagers for serious damage to their health and land. The villagers we spoke to claim that many people have died as a result of the last ten years of consistent pollution, which they are ingesting through fish, vegetables and drinking water daily. Serious criminal charges must be levelled against Vedanta in Zambia and the UK for their utter disregard for life and the environment, and the Zambian Government should be compensated for the liabilities they will leave behind, which may take decades to rehabilitate.

  4. very stable genius

    UK mining giant Vedanta Resources was dealt a double blow today as the OECD agreed that all the complaints made by Survival about the company’s planned bauxite mine in Orissa merit further consideration, and Indian police investigate fraud allegations against the company’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal.

    The OECD complaints procedure exists to investigate claims that companies are breaking international guidelines for multinational enterprises. Survival has submitted a complaint that Vedanta is pushing ahead with a massive bauxite mine in Orissa on the land of the remote Dongria Kondh tribe even though they have never been consulted, and will be destroyed by it.

    Vedanta sought to have the complaint thrown out, but the OECD’s ‘UK National Contact Point’ has now accepted that there is a case to answer.

    In a further setback for the company, police in the state of Andhra Pradesh are investigating allegations of fraud against Vedanta subsidiary Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, its chairman Anil Agarwal, his brother Navin Agarwal and seven other directors. Anil Agarwal is also the chairman of parent company Vedanta Resources, and owns most of its shares. The inquiry centres on allegations that Vedanta Aluminium cashed a $12 million bank guarantee provided for the construction of a workers’ township.

    Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This is a wake-up call for Vedanta and all multinationals that ignore their duty of care to tribal people affected by their projects. The law is clear: indigenous peoples must be consulted and their views must be respected. Vedanta cannot plough ahead with this mine, ignoring the strong protests from local people and the rights of the Dongria Kondh.’

  5. Thomz

    Who are the next investors

  6. Chendabusiku

    The Govt of Zambia with all the state machnery must just pull all stocks and investigate this company and present to who ever may be interested. But the Game is over with Vedanta. There is no way they will ever manage KCM in Zambia. The Govt of Zambia has been very patient with them for a very long time. Only blind and desperate critics would say that Kcm should have gone a long time. If the Govt acted earlier they would still have said the Govt has made haste discission so no one can ever satisfy a desperate saul. The deliberations may take longer than anticipated but the game is essentially over.

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