The fragile house of cards Sanjeev Gupta’s industrial empire, which owned the Dunkirk aluminum smelter until 2021, has suffered a series of additional setbacks over the past two weeks. In France, searches were conducted at its offices in Paris and Loon-Plage (North) on 20 April.
A week later, on 27 April, in the United Kingdom, the Serious Fraud Office, the British equivalent of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, filed a formal request with the group to release the documents. Finally, in a related case, the British accounting regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, on 4 May launched an investigation into the auditors of Mr. Gupta’s companies, King & King. Everything happens in the backdrop of a legal battle for control of Dunkirk Foundry.
A burning question at the center of the case since the Indian-British businessman appeared on the industrial scene a decade ago is: How was he financed? Over the years, the Gupta Family Group (GFG) seemed to be able to buy out factories, mainly steel and aluminum, without any difficulty. At its peak, in 2019, the group claimed to have achieved a turnover of $20 billion (19 billion euros) with 35,000 employees, including 2,000 in France.
The entrepreneur was welcomed with much fanfare by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to the Palace of Versailles for the France Select Summit in January 2019. Gerald Dormann, then Minister of Action and Public Accounts, traveled to Dunkirk to celebrate the acquisition of the plant. , a profitable industrial flagship. GFG then existed from the United Kingdom through Australia to the United States and continental Europe (France, Belgium, Romania, Poland, etc.).
a strong ambiguity
This beautiful showcase suddenly broke down in March 2021. Greensil, a finance company, went bankrupt. GFG, its largest customer by far, owes it $5 billion. Not only was the band sinking into debt, but it didn’t really exist. GFG has never been a consolidated entity: Mr. Gupta managed an informal network of dozens of independent companies in a high degree of obscurity. With a charge that keeps coming back: The businessman spent his time moving from one entity to another, repaying loans on one side with the liquidity received on the other. legally? “Any intergroup transaction or movement of cash was always approved and recorded in accordance with local laws and subject to appropriate legal advice”The group responds.
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