#AceNewsReport – May.17: A GFG Alliance spokesperson said the company would “cooperate fully with the investigation”.
Ace News Services says GFG Alliance fraud investigation raises further questions over Whyalla steelworks’ future: The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) yesterday announced it was investigating the steelworks’ owner Sanjeev Gupta’s company, Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance………The SFO said it will look into suspected fraudulent trading and money laundering, including financial arrangements with GFG’s major lender Greensill Capital, which collapsed last month.
Posted Yesterday at 9:31am
The investigation comes at the same time as GFG tries to refinance for the Whyalla steelworks and Tahmoor coal mine in New South Wales, following Greensill’s collapse.
Local MP Eddie Hughes said the latest development “just adds to the uncertainty in Whyalla” and the 2,000 workers at the steelworks.
“It’s the only integrated steelworks in the nation that produces structural steel and rail, so it is an integral part of our sovereign manufacturing capacity,” Mr Hughes said.
Investigation ‘disappointing’ for workers
Australian Workers’ Union SA branch secretary Peter Lamps the union was “quite disappointed in the news overnight emanating from the United Kingdom”.
“We’ve continuously said throughout this whole process that resolution of it would take a number of weeks, if not months, rather than a number of days,” Mr Lamps said.
“Whilst disappointing … our members have known for some time that this is a long process, and they continue, as they’ve done throughout this whole process, to make steel.”
He said “as the days and weeks go on” the union remained confident the financing would be sorted out and Whyalla would receive more clarity.
“Whilst disappointing, [the investigation is] probably not surprising to some, given the complexity and given the number of entities caught up in the Greensill matter that regulatory authorities would have a view of investigating.”
Meanwhile, South Australia’s Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said although it was “business as usual” in Whyalla, Mr Gupta’s “significant” investment in the state meant “these are matters which we always keep an eye on”.
“People who operate international companies, and have networks and investments around the world, are subject to the integrity bodies of all of those countries in which they operate,” Ms Chapman said.
She said it was a matter for British authorities to investigate and that there was no similar investigation underway in Australia.
“There’s no indication that there’s any integrity body in Australia investigating any conduct that we’re aware of in Australia at all,” she said.
She said in the time Mr Gupta had owned the steelworks, it had been restructured and had “significant improvement in its profitability”.
Council ‘continues to receive assurances’, mayor says
In a statement, City of Whyalla mayor Clare McLaughlin said the council was not in a position to comment on any investigations on “the other side of the world”.
However, she said the council continues to receive assurances from GFG Alliance that it is making progress in refinancing its operations – including in Whyalla – which has been backed up by potential Australian refinancing partner, White Oak Global Advisors.
“Council also continues to be extremely encouraged by the Whyalla operations’ profitability; record rates of production; and strong demand for their product,” Ms McLaughlin said.
White Oak yesterday said it would not go ahead with the refinancing while the investigation was ongoing, but today said it continues its efforts to refinance Liberty Primary Metals debt, subject to financial due diligence and acceptable governance.
“Our consideration continues to be providing capital to good companies in critical industries while preserving jobs,” the spokesperson said.
In response to the ABC’s request for comment, a GFG spokesperson today said the company “continues to work with White Oak towards refinancing of Liberty Primary Metals Australia”.
#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.17: 2021:
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