Britain's Serious Fraud Office investigates Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance

Watchdog probes 'suspected fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering' in its dealings with Greensill Capital

Sanjeev Gupta, head of GFG Alliance. The company has relied heavily on Greensill Capital to fund its operations. AFP
Sanjeev Gupta, head of GFG Alliance. The company has relied heavily on Greensill Capital to fund its operations. AFP

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating British steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance and its financing arrangements with the collapsed finance company Greensill Capital.

GFG Alliance, Mr Gupta's privately-held conglomerate, has relied heavily on Greensill Capital to fund its operations.

“The SFO is investigating suspected fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering in relation to the financing and conduct of the business of companies within the Gupta Family Group Alliance (GFG), including its financing arrangements with Greensill Capital,” the watchdog said in a statement on Friday.

“As this is a live investigation, the SFO can provide no further comment.”

A GFG Alliance representative said the company has noted the SFO investigation.

"GFG Alliance will co-operate fully with the investigation. As these matters are the subject of an SFO investigation we cannot make any further comment," the representative said.

"GFG Alliance continues to serve its customers around the world and is making progress in the refinancing of its operations which are benefitting from the operational improvements it has made and the very strong steel, aluminium and iron ore markets.”

Greensill portrayed itself as the champion of small businesses by “making finance fairer” through the provision of supply chain finance – whereby businesses borrow money to pay their suppliers upfront – to customers across the globe.

However, the company was forced to file for insolvency in March after its main insurer stopped providing credit insurance on $4.1 billion ($2.91bn) of debt in portfolios it had created for clients including Credit Suisse.

The loss of the insurance contract then led its main client GFG, the owner of Britain's third largest steel maker Liberty Steel, to start defaulting on its debts, putting thousands of jobs at risk as GFG seeks to refinance.

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday it was formally investigating Greensill's UK operations as part of global probes.

Lex Greensill, chief executive officer of Greensill Capital, gives evidence during a live steam of a Treasury Select Committee hearing into the collapse of his company. Bloomberg
Lex Greensill, chief executive officer of Greensill Capital, gives evidence during a live steam of a Treasury Select Committee hearing into the collapse of his company. Bloomberg

Appearing before the Treasury Committee on Tuesday, the company’s head Australian Lex Greensill said he was "truly sorry" and took full responsibility for what happened.

Embattled former British prime minister David Cameron has also been caught up in the scandal after becoming an adviser to Greensill in 2018.

Mr Cameron made repeated efforts to access state-backed coronavirus support schemes to help rescue Greensill.

On Thursday, Mr Cameron refused to reveal his pay from the company during a grilling by MPs over his lobbying activities.

Mr Cameron said he was paid more than his £150,000 salary as prime minister and received shares, but denied that he was motivated by personal gain when he bombarded ministers with messages urging them to increase the firm’s access to government coronavirus loan schemes.

“I had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill,” Mr Cameron said at the start of a two-hour grilling. “I don’t think the amount is particularly germane.”

Mr Cameron insisted on Thursday that he did not know of the problems facing the company when he sent the messages. He told the committee that he did not believe there was any danger of the company failing until December 2020.

More on Greensill Capital

‘This is a painful day’: Ex-PM David Cameron grilled over Greensill lobbying role

Bank of England reveals lobbying by former British prime minister David Cameron

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak told David Cameron he ‘pushed the team’ over Greensill

Published: May 14, 2021 02:45 PM

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