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Pressure mounting on metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta

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Pressure mounting on metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta after UK accounting regulator launches investigations into audits of his empire

Pressure is mounting on metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta after the UK accounting regulator launched investigations into the audits of his empire. 

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is probing into bookkeeping by King & King, a two-partner firm with two offices in London, one above a make-up shop on Regent Street. 

The firm led by Milan Patel, a 58-yearold chartered accountant, has audited scores of companies in GFG, Gupta’s collection of businesses. It is little known, and an unlikely group to be found at the centre of a sprawling multi-billion-pound empire. 

Under pressure: Sanjeev Gupta has been battling to refinance his conglomerate since the collapse in March last year of Greensill Capital, his main lender

The FRC said it would comb accounts relating to Liberty Speciality Steels, Alvance British Aluminium and Liberty Steel Newport for the year ending March 2019. It will also look at Liberty Performance Steels Limited statements for the year ended March 2020.

If it finds wrongdoing by King & King it can impose sanctions, including fines and a ban on signing off company accounts. 

The probes are another embarrassment for Gupta, once lauded as the ‘saviour of steel’ for rescuing factories after the Serious Fraud Office last week raided several of his UK sites as part of a probe into suspected fraud and money laundering. This marked an escalation of its inquiry into Gupta’s metals empire launched last May. 

Gupta has been battling to refinance his conglomerate since the collapse in March last year of Greensill Capital, his main lender. 

He controls Liberty Steel through GFG Alliance, a group of metals and energy firms that has as many as 35,000 staff worldwide, including 3,000 in UK steel. 

King & King has a few other big clients, including firms controlled by Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, founder of Middle East hospital operator NMC Health and finance group Finablr. NMC and Finablr have both been accused of fraud. 

Patel last year refused to answer MPs’ queries about GFG or Gupta. GFG said: ‘We recognise the importance of strong audit practices and have been evolving our corporate structure and governance.’

Investigations pile up 

The King & King probe is the latest relating to Sanjeev Gupta and his GFG Alliance. 

In May 2021 the Serious Fraud Office launched a probe into suspected fraud and money laundering at GFG, including its arrangements with the now defunct Greensill Capital.

It last week raided offices to request documents including annual reports. Days earlier, French police visited the Paris offices of GFG, probing claims of ‘misuse of corporate assets’ and ‘money laundering’. 

Business committee MPs queried in November whether Gupta was fit to run a steel firm. They urged him to restructure his businesses to make them more transparent. 

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