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Watchdog probes Greensill and Gupta accountants as UK boss quits tycoon’s steel empire

·2-min read
Sanjeev Gupta (PA Wire)
Sanjeev Gupta (PA Wire)

THE accountancy regulator today announced two probes into auditors working with scandal-struck Sanjeev Gupta and Greensill just hours before the Indian tycoon’s GFG empire said the head of its UK steel operations was leaving little over a year in the job.

The Financial Reporting Council is investigating PWC over its audit of the accounts of Gupta’s Mayfair-based Wyelands bank and the small firm Saffrey Champness’s work auditing Greensill Capital (UK).

While the two investigations are separate, the FRC announced them on their website simultaneously today.

Wyelands was launched by steel magnate Gupta in 2017 but drew the attention of regulators after the Financial Times exposed that much of the bank’s lending was to Gupta-linked companies.

The Bank of England ordered it return money to its savers.

PWC said it would co-operate with the FRC, saying it was “two years into a wide-ranging programme to enhance audit quality across the firm.”

The FRC is probing its work auditing Wyelands accounts for the year to April 2019.

The FRC said it was probing Saffery Champness for its audit of Greensill in the year to December 2019.

Saffery Champness said it would not be appropriate to comment due to its duty of confidentiality to present and former clients. It said it, too, was co-operating with the FRC.

Greensill’s accounts were signed off by Michael Di Leto, senior statuory auditor of Saffery Champness’s office in Queen Victoria Street.

Those of Wyelands Bank for the year to April 2019 were signed off by PWC’s Jonathan Hinchliffe, senior statutory auditor.

The FT last year reported that Wyelands had helped fund Gupta’s wider business network through a series of shell companies.

It also revealed that Gupta, formerly known as the “saviour of steel” had set in play plans to open a bank in Panama before UK regulators allowed him to buy the bank he would rename Wyelands.

Shortly after the FRC announced its probes, GFG Alliance said Jon Ferriman, who became head of Liberty Steel UK in May last year, was “stepping down”.

He will be replaced as chief executive by Roy Chowdhury, general manager of India’s largest steelmaker, Steel Authority of India. He will be supported by Anton Krull, who, as its new chief financial officer, faced MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy committee last week.

In an update on the restructuring of GFG, the company said it was still trying to sell its UK aerospace and special alloys steel operation in Stockbridge so it can focus its efforts here on developing its Rotherham plant into a low-carbon electric arc furnace.

It is also looking for buyers of its UK engineering arm which supplies carmakers. GFG and its customers would continue providing enough cashflow to keep it alive.

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