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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.