July 31, 2021

British MPs face the opacity of the Gupta empire

On several occasions, Kwasi Kwarteng, the British Minister for Industry, has used the same adjective to describe GFG (Gupta Family Group) Alliance: « opaque ». On Tuesday, July 20, he answered questions from a parliamentary committee investigating the strange affairs of this empire of steel and aluminum factories owned by Sanjeev Gupta, an Indo-British businessman.

Read also Gupta UK fraud investigation

By the minister’s own admission, the functioning of this group is difficult to understand. So much so that in April, when GFG Alliance appeared to be on the brink of financial collapse, Mr Kwarteng firmly rejected his request for a £ 170million (€ 197million) bailout: “It was too opaque. I couldn’t guarantee that the money would stay in the UK. “ While being ready to intervene after a possible bankruptcy, Mr. Kwarteng prefers to risk the 5,000 British jobs of the group rather than venture to help him. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the British equivalent of the financial prosecutor’s office, has, for its part, opened an investigation for fraud.

In France, the Sanjeev Gupta group has put up for sale its finest factories, namely the Ascoval steel plant (North) and the Hayange rail factory (Moselle)

In March, GFG Alliance’s main backer, Greensill, filed for bankruptcy. Suddenly running out of cash, Mr. Gupta’s group, created in just a few years, stretching from the UK to Australia to France, and employing 35,000 people, falters. In France, it has put up for sale its finest factories, namely the Ascoval steelworks (North) and the Hayange rail factory (Moselle).

Very uncooperative

Mr. Gupta’s practices raise questions. Where did the money come from that allowed his group to grow so quickly? The British parliamentary committee on industrial questions, which is trying to answer this question, is hitting a wall, as is Mr Kwarteng. Mr. Gupta and his collaborators show very little co-operation with the deputies.

The businessman refused to appear before the committee, his lawyers having advised him to remain silent so as not to compromise his defense against the SFO. As for Anton Krull, the UK CFO of Liberty Steel, the steel arm of GFG Alliance, he has only been in the post for two months and knows little or nothing: “I am the financial director, but that does not cover the capital structure”, did he declare.

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