Greensill Capital’s administrator has been unable to verify invoices underpinning loans to Sanjeev Gupta, after companies listed on the documents denied that they had ever done business with the metals magnate.
Greensill, whose collapse last month has become a corporate and political scandal, provided financing to Gupta’s companies backed by payments to his suppliers and from his customers.
The disputed invoices raise questions over other transactions underpinning billions of pounds of loans from Greensill to Gupta.
It comes as the metals magnate’s GFG Alliance, which owns metals plants around the world and employs 35,000 people, teeters on the brink of collapse. The state of Gupta’s UK steel operations has been of particular concern, with unions warning that up to 5,000 jobs are at risk across the country.
Grant Thornton, which is looking to recoup money owed to Greensill in its role as administrator to the collapsed firm, last month approached companies that were listed as debtors to Gupta’s Liberty Commodities trading firm, which borrowed hundreds of millions of pounds backed by invoices.
Greensill had extended a receivables financing facility to Liberty Commodities that allowed it to exchange bills from customers for cash upfront. This process, also known as factoring, meant that Greensill would get repaid when the customer settled the invoice, by paying for goods it purchased from Liberty.
However, several of these companies have disputed the veracity of the invoices from the metals magnate’s commodities trading firm, according to people familiar with the matter and correspondence seen by the Financial Times.
RPS Siegen GmbH, a German scrap metals business, confirmed to the FT that it had been approached about an outstanding invoice and said that it had not traded with Liberty Commodities.
“We know them, but a trading relationship between us does not exist,” said Winfried Winterhager, manager at RPS Siegen.
Grant Thornton and Greensill Capital declined to comment. Gupta’s GFG Alliance said it was unable to comment without seeing the relevant invoices.
Credit Suisse, which invested its clients’ money in bond-like products devised by Greensill, this week pushed for insolvency filings against several of the British businessman’s companies, including Liberty Commodities.
Gupta, once hailed as the “saviour of steel” for his rescue of metals plants from Wales to Australia, on Thursday disputed that these debts were due for repayment.
The UK government last week rejected a plea by Gupta for more than £170m to help bail out his British operations.
The FT has previously reported that Greensill provided financing to Gupta’s business empire based on invoices from ostensibly independent companies, but which actually had deep ties to the steel magnate.