UK watchdog probes audits of Gupta-owned metal companies

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FILE PHOTO: Steel tycoon Gupta arrives at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London

By Huw Jones and Pratima Desai

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s accounting watchdog has opened four investigations into audits by King & King of steel and aluminium companies owned by metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, it said on Wednesday.

The Financial Reporting Council said the investigations are into the financial statements of Liberty Speciality Steels Limited, Alvance British Aluminium Limited, Liberty Steel Newport Limited and Liberty Performance Steels Limited.

The investigations cover the financial year to March 31, 2019 for Liberty Speciality Steels, Alvance – formerly known as Liberty Aluminium Lochaber – and Liberty Steel Newport, the watchdog said.

For Liberty Performance Steels, the probe covers the year ended March 31, 2020, it added.

King & King, a small two-office accounting firm, had no immediate comment.

GFG Alliance said the FRC makes clear that the investigation is into audit practices at King & King, and does not involve GFG entities or individuals.

“We recognise the importance of strong audit practices and have been evolving our corporate structure and governance as we continue our efforts to restructure and refinance our portfolio,” it said.

The FRC said it made the decision to investigate the audits in February, but gave no further information.

Last month Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said it had made coordinated raids on trading addresses of GFG Alliance.

Gupta has been scrambling to refinance his international network of steel and aluminium and energy businesses following the collapse of supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.

(Reporting by Huw Jones and Pratima Desai; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey)

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