CBI on Tuesday lodged a case against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC 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 multi-crore 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 Aditya Birla Group, unknown persons and officials," agency spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said.

The USD 40 billion (about Rs 2.45 lakh crore) conglomerate has denied receiving any FIR and refuted allegations of any wrongdoing. The CBI action had immediate fallout with Hindalco shares dropping in the morning by 1.27 percent. 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 passed 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.


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