New Delhi, Oct 15 (PTI): The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday lodged a case against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parekh on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks eight years back.
After registering the fresh FIR, its 14th in the scandal, coordinated searches were carried out by CBI teams at nearly six locations in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneshwar.
The 46-year-old head of the Aditya Birla group will be called in for questioning, CBI sources said.
The agency has booked Birla as a representative of Aditya Birla Group and his group company, aluminium maker Hindalco, for alleged corruption in the allocation of Talabira two coal blocks in Odisha which was allotted to it on November 10, 2005, the sources said.
The blocks were allocated for power production during a meeting of the screening committee, they said.
"CBI registers a fresh case in alleged irregularities in coal scam against the then Coal Secretary, M/s Hindalco, representative of Adita Birla Group, unknown persons and officials,” agency spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.
The $40 billion (about Rs. 2.45 lakh crore) conglomerate has denied receiving any FIR and also denied allegations of any wrongdoing.
The CBI action had immediate fallout with Hindalco shares dropping in the morning by 1.27 per cent. Some of the other Birla companies were also affected.
Parekh, who was Coal Secretary at the time of this allocation, faces charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act as also criminal conspiracy and other offences.
CBI has been at the receiving end in the Supreme Court which has pased tough questions on why coal fields were allocated to private players without a transparent bidding process, the slow pace of probe as also on missing files.
Supreme Court on missing files on Coalgate and for not sharing information with CBI and was directed to hand over relevant documents within two weeks to the agency which would also probe disappearance of certain vital papers.
Holding that the missing documents are vital for the probe in the scam, the apex court had directed the Coal Ministry to lodge complaint with the CBI if it fails to trace any documents, sought by the agency.
The apex court had observed that the agency was still in the “first gear” in its probe and needed to pick up speed.
It directed CBI to conclude by December this year the probe against all companies that were allocated coal blocks, and ordered it to file the status report on this issue by October 22.
Congress MP Naveen Jindal and former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao have been accused of alleged cheating and graft by CBI in one of its FIRs in the coal scam. Besides Jindal and Rao, CBI has also booked companies Jindal Steel and Power Limited and Gagan Sponge which were allotted Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Birbhum, Jharkhand in the year 2008.
CBI has also registered a case against Delhi-based steel company Rathi Steel & Power Ltd, its Chief Executive Officer Udit Rathi and unknown others for allegedly giving false data about its land holdings and capacity while getting a coal block in Chhattisgarh.