Miner Vedanta rapped over Indian political donations

Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:21am EDT

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* Pirc criticises political donations, Agarwal as chairman

* AGM to be held on Aug. 28 in London

LONDON Aug 14 (Reuters) - UK shareholder advisory group Pirc has criticised India-focused miner Vedanta over political donations made ahead of elections in the country this year, advising shareholders to withhold votes on its report and accounts later this month.

London-listed Vedanta said in the annual report for its financial year to the end of March that it had made donations of $2.01 million in the year, "either in a trust or directly in respect of the Indian general election". That compares with $0.02 million a year earlier.

"The board states that it believes that supporting the political process in India will encourage and strengthen the democratic process. However, there are concerns with the amount involved," Pirc said.

"Further, the use of shareholder funds as a donation for political parties is a questionable use of shareholders money."

Millions of Indian voters have cast their ballots in key state elections this year, including in iron ore producing state Goa and in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous and politically important state.

Vedanta's shareholder meeting, typically one of the most heated in the sector, is due to be held on Aug. 28.

The miner has in the past fought off accusations from investors and pressure groups over environmental and health violations.

Pirc also advised shareholders to oppose the election of Anil Agarwal, who controls the miner, as executive chairman.

Vedanta had no immediate comment.

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