NEW DELHI Aug 25 India's Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) said on Monday it would close a coal scam
case against billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla and a former top
bureaucrat that surfaced in 2012 after a government auditor's
The CBI will file a closure report on the case against Birla
and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh very soon, CBI spokeswoman
Kanchan Prasad told Reuters.
"Obviously if a closure report is being filed there's no
criminality (on the part of Birla and Parakh)," she said.
India's federal auditor had alleged that the government's
under-priced sale of coal blocks may have cost the exchequer
revenues of $33 billion, although industry watchers and the
previous government had cast doubts on the figure. Indian media
has dubbed the controversy as "coalgate".
The CBI filed the case against Birla and Parakh late last
year in relation to a block allocated in 2005 to Hindalco
Industries, part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla
Group. Kumar Mangalam Birla is the chairman of the group.
The case had sparked widespread condemnation from industry
leaders and politicians alike given Birla's stature as a leading
Hindalco had denied any wrongdoing and even the then Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in charge of the coal ministry
when the allocation took place, defended the decision to award
the block to Hindalco.
Hindalco shares were down 1.4 percent in late morning trade
in a wider market that was up 0.67 percent.
Prasad, however, said investigations against Jindal Steel
and Power Ltd in a different coal block allocation
will continue. Jindal, controlled by former Congress party
lawmaker Naveen Jindal, has said it was cooperating with the
Accusations of crony capitalism in allocating India's
resources from coal to mobile telephone bandwidth had dogged the
former government of Manmohan Singh. His Congress party suffered
its worst defeat in polls concluded about three months ago.
(Reporting by Krishna N Das; Editing by Michael Perry)