Coalgate: CBI gives SC a 'Birla diary' showing 'payments' to politicians

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CBI had registered a corruption case against Aditya Birla Group chief Kumar Mangalam Birla in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks in 2005. CBI had registered a corruption case against Aditya Birla Group chief Kumar Mangalam Birla in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks in 2005.
Summary'Notebook' found by I-T shows receipts in crores, Birla group said to have agreed to pay taxes on these.

The CBI, probing the coal blocks allotment scandal, has handed over to the Supreme Court a "diary" it recovered from the offices of the Aditya Birla Group that lists an estimated 1,000 payments purportedly made to politicians and MPs of several parties by a Birla company trust over a 10-year period.

This diary was recovered during the agency's October 16 raids on the offices of the group following its FIR alleging corruption in the allotment of Talabira block to Hindalco. This recovery was detailed by the CBI in its status report to the apex court.

The dates on which these payments have been made, sources said, are around the time of two Lok Sabha elections and several elections of state Assemblies. The CBI has handed over this diary to the Supreme Court and is awaiting directions.

Another diary, being described as a "notebook," recovered by investigators of the Income Tax Department, shows receipts adding up to almost Rs 100 crore and top CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) sources have confirmed to The Indian Express that the Birla group has agreed to pay taxes on these receipts.

Responding to a detailed query on these diaries by the investigating agencies, the Birla company spokesperson told The Indian Express: "Since there is an ongoing investigation into this matter, it would not be appropriate for us to comment.''

Sources said that while the CBI searched the offices of the group in four cities, the Income Tax Department was called in to help in the recovery of Rs 25 crore in cash from the group's corporate office in New Delhi.

Simultaneously, the Income Tax investigation wing confronted officials of the Aditya Birla group with another "notebook'' listing receipts totalling almost Rs 100 crore. This "notebook" was recovered by IT investigators from the same address where they found the Rs 25-crore cash and, significantly, this amount is understood to be part of the listed receipts.

Following the recovery of cash, the company issued a statement saying it is "taken aback by the discovery of cash at one of its offices by the investigating agency. It has taken a very serious view of the matter...''

Sources said the IT Department has already approached the CBI with a request for a copy of the "political'' diary to establish whether the purported payments to politicians and MPs have been declared by the company or whether they have claimed tax exemption for the same.

Officials said the CBI has since asked IT authorities to approach the Supreme Court for the diary. A formal request from IT is expected to reach the Supreme Court by early next week.

Diary, Notebook

*One lists estimated 1,000 payments purportedly made to politicians and MPs of several parties by a Birla company trust over a 10-year period

*Another shows receipts adding to Rs 100 crore

*Birla group said to have agreed to pay taxes for these

*IT wants copy of 'political' diary

*Spokesman: "Since there is an ongoing investigation into this matter, it would not be appropriate for us to comment.''

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