The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday lodged a case against former coal secretary PC Parakh and chairman of the Aditya Birla Group Kumar Mangalam Birla for alleged irregularities in the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005.
A CBI spokesperson said an inter-ministerial screening committee had allocated two coal blocks at Talabira-2 in Jharsuguda district of Odisha exclusively to the Tamil Nadu-based public sector unit Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) under the government dispensation scheme.
But later, it allowed Hindalco to share these blocks with NLC. The change came after a meeting between KM Birla and the then coal secretary PC Parakh, the spokesperson said.
However, the agency has so far found no evidence of any quid pro quo between the two, a CBI official said.
Hindalco, an aluminum maker, is a group company of the Aditya Birla Group. The CBI booked Birla in his capacity as the representative of the group, Parakh, Hindalco and some unknown persons on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy and abuse of official position.
In a statement, Pragnya Ram, spokesperson for the Aditya Birla Group, said, "This (Tuesday's development) seems to be part of a larger case related to coal allocation to companies, and being one of the companies, we are also being investigated.
"We wish to state unambiguously that we have followed every process required for allocation of coal completely, as stipulated by the government policy," the statement said.
The FIR is the fourteenth lodged so far by the CBI in its ongoing probe into alleged irregularities in coal block allocations.
The investigation agency also claimed recovery of "incriminating documents" during raids at various offices of the Aditya Birla Group in Worli, Elphinstone Road and Central Mumbai. They also scrutinised documents at Hindalco Industries office in Century Bhavan, Worli.
In Bhubaneswar, a CBI team searched the residence of former Hindalco chairman SK Tamotia in Nayapalli and later sealed it. Tamotia had joined the Aditya Birla Group after retiring as the CMD of state-owned aluminum company Nalco. The residence of Parakh was also raided.
After the CBI filed the case, shares of Hindalco and other Aditya Birla-promoted firms such as AB Nuvo and Idea Cellular fell by up to 5% but ended the day on a mixed note.
Hindalco Industries' scrip that had tanked 4.97% to Rs. 105.10 in intra-day trade, ended with a gain of 1.45% at Rs. 112.20 on the BSE.
Similarly, Aditya Birla Chemicals was up 1.93%. Shares of Aditya Birla Nuvo ended 2.02% lower, while Idea Cellular was down 0.08%.