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CRIME

Police raid French sites of British steel magnate’s company

The French headquarters of British steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance and a foundry have been raided by investigators probing suspicions of money laundering and abuse of corporate assets, the company said on Tuesday.

Police raid French sites of British steel magnate's company
Illustration photo of Aluminum Dunkerque, Europe's largest foundry. Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP

The raids last week at the Paris corporate office and the Aluminium Dunkerque foundry were part of a preliminary investigation opened in July last year and is being conducted by a specialised financial crime brigade, said a source close to the case, confirming a report in the Financial Times.

Gupta and his Liberty Steel firm was once seen as the saviour of British steelmaking.

But Liberty Steel, one of the world’s top steel groups, has been fighting for survival following the March 2021 collapse of Greensill Capital, the main lender to its parent company Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance.

British authorities are also investigating the GFG Alliance.

“The French authorities came to our offices in Paris last week as part of the investigation underway,” a GFG Alliance spokesman told AFP.

“We strongly reject any suggestion of reprehensible actions and we continue to cooperate fully with French authorities to help them complete the case rapidly,” he added.

The French case initially targeted a state-guaranteed loan made by Greensill Capital to GFG-owned foundry, Liberty Aluminium Poitou, said the source familiar with the case.

It later expanded to include Aluminium Dunkerque, Europe’s largest foundry, whose takeover last October by the American Industrial Partners (AIP) private equity fund is contested by GFG.

According to the FT, the probe is looking at a deal concluded with Swiss commodities group Glencore to block the takeover and the use of €25 million from the foundry’s accounts to settle a legal dispute with Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining group which sold the foundry to GFG Alliance in 2018.

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CRIME

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.

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