Trust set up for making political donations, allowed under Companies Act: Birla

BirlaI-T officials said that once they receive the copy, they would compare the outflows listed by the Group in the diary with the declaration made by Aditya Birla companies. (Reuters)

In response to the report 'CBI gives SC a 'Birla diary' showing 'payments' to politicians, MPs' published in The Indian Express on December 6, the Aditya Birla Group has issued the following statement: "Given that there is a pending investigation, we reiterate that it is not appropriate for us to comment. However, in response to certain media reports on the Aditya Birla Group's Trust and payments to politicians/MPs, we wish to state that the Trust was set up by some of our Group companies for making donations to political parties after the Companies Act was amended, permitting such contributions."

The Group has also said that "the contributing companies after serious deliberations and based on the best international practice in this regard, decided to create a Trust called "General Electoral Trust", in 1998. Its sole purpose is of making contributions to various political parties/individuals, nominated by political parties, and to independent candidates standing for parliamentary or state assembly elections. The Trust makes political contributions only to those political parties/candidates who are registered with the Election Commission of India. It is a non-profit organization. All contributions are duly accounted for and reflected in the audited published accounts of the contributing companies."

As reported by The Indian Express, the CBI has handed over to the Supreme Court bench hearing the coal blocks allocation case a "diary" which lists over 1,000 such political donations made by the Aditya Birla Group to politicians and MPs over a 10-year period.

The "diary" was recovered during the October 16 raids on the offices of the Group in connection with the Talabira coal blocks allocation. Soon after the raids, the CBI mentioned the seizure in its status report to the apex court, and subsequently decided to hand over the document as well.

The Income-Tax authorities, who too have recovered a "notebook" listing coded entries totalling to almost Rs 100 crore, have since requested the CBI for a copy of the "diary". During discussions between the two agencies, it was decided that the I-T department should file an application before the apex court for the copy of the "diary", which it is now in the process of doing.

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