Newspaper: French prosecutors investigate Sanjeev Gupta’s business empire

(Reuters) – French authorities have opened an investigation into Sanjeev Gupta’s business empire, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The attorney general’s office told the newspaper it was investigating Gupta’s activities in France over allegations of “misuse of corporate assets” and “money laundering”.

The Financial Times said the investigation began in July after officials reported suspicious activities.

GFG said it was “not aware of any such investigation and denies any indication of wrongdoing in its activities in France”.

The Financial Times reported that officials pointed to Gupta’s deal with commodity trader Glencore to counter a takeover attempt by US private equity firm American Industrial Partners.

“There was a commercial agreement with Glencore at market rates to obtain stable financing for the company,” GFG said in a statement.

The report, citing people familiar with the matter, said officials also reported that GFG had used 25 million euros ($28.89 million) from the Dunkirk smelter to pay for litigation costs linked to a dispute with global mining group Rio Tinto.

In August, GFG said it had settled a dispute with Rio Tinto over the acquisition of the Dunkirk aluminum smelter in 2018.

On Sunday, the Paris prosecutor’s office could not be reached for comment.

GFG was struggling to refinance its cash-strapped steel, aluminum and energy network after supply chain finance company Greensell filed for bankruptcy in March.

In May, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into the Gupta empire in the commodities sector. The investigation extended to the group’s links to collapsed finance company Greensell Capital.

(dollar = 0.8655 euros)

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