On Wednesday, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office deployed investigators to sites linked to Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance to demand documents as it steps up its probe into the industrialist’s empire.
The move comes days after French police raided properties, including metal factories linked to Gupta.
The SFO said its teams ‘attended business addresses earlier this morning, issuing Section 2 notices to request documents including company balance sheets, annual reports and correspondence related to the investigation. of the SFO”. So-called Section 2 notices can be used by the SFO to compel someone to answer questions or turn over documents or other items in connection with a criminal investigation.
The operation, which covered properties in England, Scotland and Wales, marks an escalation of the SFO’s investigation into suspected fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering in the metals empire of Gupta, launched almost a year ago. The SFO said investigators also spoke to executives at multiple addresses, who “cooperated with the operation.”
The SFO is investigating the funding and conduct of business activities within GFG, including its funding arrangements with Greensill Capital.
GFG declined to comment. However, in an internal memo to staff, Jeff Kabel, chief transformation officer of Liberty Steel, which is part of GFG, wrote that the company would “comply with orders to request information” from the SFO and “continue to cooperate.” fully in every way.” The company, he added, had “consistently rejected any wrongdoing”.
Liberty had “very strict information and document preservation policies” in place that it implemented before the SFO announcement, Kabel added, while urging employees to adhere to them.
“We recognize that these requests can be disruptive and of concern to employees and stakeholders. However, we are encouraged that the investigation is now progressing and nearing a conclusion.
The SFO investigation comes after French police raided the Paris offices of GFG Alliance and a metallurgical plant it previously owned. The Paris prosecutor’s office last year launched an investigation into Gupta’s French operations that mirrored the SFO investigation.
The raids, which took place last week, include an aluminum smelter in Dunkirk, which Gupta’s family conglomerate lost control of last year.
GFG has been on the brink since its main lender, Greensill, collapsed in a financial and political scandal last March. Since then, the industrial conglomerate has been looking for alternative funds but has not yet agreed on a global refinancing of its key activities.
It has restructured its UK steel business which operates under the Liberty Steel umbrella and changed some of its management in recent months. Its main UK production sites are in Rotherham and Stocksbridge in Yorkshire, which manufacture specialist alloys for customers in the automotive and aerospace industries. He recently announced his intention to cut 160 jobs in Stocksbridge.
In February, HM Revenue & Customs filed petitions for liquidation against four of GFG’s Liberty Steel UK companies which employ just over 2,000 workers for unpaid taxes. HMRC withdrew the petitions last month after negotiations with the company.