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At Birla office, I-T found entries marked ‘payment’ for ‘Project J (Environment)’

The raid was conducted as a follow-up to CBI probe into the group’s alleged role in Hindalco coal allotment scandal.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi |
Updated: January 31, 2015 4:49:22 am

With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar indicating that projects dealt with by former UPA environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan will be put under the scanner, a set of entries in documents recovered by the Income-Tax Department from the office of the Aditya Birla Group during a raid in October 2013 could also be up for scrutiny.

The raid was conducted as a follow-up to the CBI probe into the group’s alleged role in the Hindalco coal allotment scandal.

Two annexures, categorised as Annexure A-1 and Annexure A-2, are now part of the appraisal report prepared by I-T’s investigation wing and as first reported by The Indian Express (on January 15, 2015), the assessment wing has a March 2016 deadline to complete its report
the findings.  A scrutiny of the 167-page appraisal report shows that there are 13 entries listed on Page 2 of Annexure-2 which are called “payments under Project – J, Environment and Forest” and these add up to Rs 7.08 crore. Dates of these entries are between January 9, 2012 and February 2, 2012.

The two Birla executives whose statements were recorded by the IT sleuths after the search were also questioned about these “Project J” entries but they did not provide specific answers. Their statements on nature of entries found in the recovered documents, too, form part of the appraisal report.

Anand Kumar Saxena, Deputy General Manager (Accounts) of ABMCL (Aditya Birla Management Corporation Pvt Ltd) said the entries were a “summary of unaccounted cash receipts already recorded.” Shubhendu Amitabh, Group Executive President, said: “The notings on this page relates to a proposal  project which was under contemplation upon by me in course of my real estate financing activity. This was only at a proposal stage…”

The IT Department had recovered Rs 25.13 crore in cash from the Delhi office of ABMCL during the search. On December 19 last year, The Indian Express  gave a written questionnaire to the company asking, among other things, details on these 13 entries listed under “Project – J, Environment and Forest.” No response was received.

When asked about these entries today, an ABMCL spokesperson said: “We don’t know how this matter is being remotely connected to us and make no sense of any suggestions of payments being made to the former Environment Minister.”
Natarajan was unavailable for comment.

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