All donations to politicians strictly legal: Aditya Birla Group

The Aditya Birla Group, the Indian business conglomerate, today said it has been donating funds to individual politicians and political parties for around 15 years; but all these donations are through a special trust and are fully legal.

The company's statement was in response to a report in The Indian Express newspaper on Friday, which said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had ''handed over to the Supreme Court a diary it recovered from the offices of the Aditya Birla Group that lists an estimated 1,000 payments purportedly made to politicians and MPs of several parties by a Birla company trust over a 10-year period''.

The CBI is probing irregularities in the allocations of coal blocks to private companies; and has charged Birla group company Hindalco, an aluminium manufacturer, of being a beneficiary.

The business conglomerate did not deny that it has been making contributions to more than one political party, as well as individual politicians – a fact with widespread implications, which has been glossed over in most reports.

''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 organisation,'' the company stated.

The CBI had said on 16 October that it had filed a first information report (FIR) against Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla group, as well as Hindalco Industries Ltd. The CBI also filed charges against former coal secretary P C Parekh. The CBI had raided Aditya Birla Group firms on the same day.