GFG risks fines for late filing of accounts – already 11 months late

GFG Alliance faces fines as it finalizes the accounts of Alvance British Aluminum – formerly Liberty Aluminum Lochaber – and its power station, Simec Lochaber Hydropower.

Companies House records show Alvance is nearly 11 months behind in filing its accounts for the year ending March 2020, while the group is more than six months behind in filing various associated entities to hydroelectric activity.

Sanjeev Gupta’s group acquired the 90-year-old smelter and its hydropower plant from mining giant Rio Tino for £330m in 2016.

It’s a legal requirement for businesses to keep records in a timely manner, although the fines are only £1,500 for each business.

GFG admitted that the filing of its accounts had been “delayed due to the disruption caused by the collapse of Greensill Capital”, adding that: “We are in contact with Companies House and are currently finalizing these accounts which will be filed in due course.” .

Liberal Democrat economics spokesman Willie Rennie said the inability to complete the accounts could be a “warning sign” that jobs are at risk at the plant.

Fergus Ewing, Nicola Sturgeon and Sanjeev Gupta pose at the end of the £330million deal to buy Britain’s last aluminum smelter at Fort William in 2016

GFG has been forced to defend its group’s complex finances since its main backer, Greensill Capital, collapsed last year, prompting a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into “suspicions of fraud, trade fraud and money laundering” at GFG, raising concerns for its 35,000 people worldwide. workforce – including 3,000 in the UK.

More recently, GFG received a winding-up order from HM Revenue & Customs against four of its steel businesses in England for a debt of £26.3 million.

Last year, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng refused to grant Liberty Steel – owner of steelworks in Scotland at Dalzell and Clydebridge – a £170million bailout because he was unable to guarantee that the money provided would stay in the UK.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee released a report on GFG’s governance, casting doubt on whether Gupta was a ‘fit and proper person’ to receive government support unless he restructures the company. company “into a more acceptable corporate structure and publishes consolidated information”. duly audited accounts.

GFG’s acquisition of the aluminum smelter, which included a 14,000-acre estate that includes part of Ben Nevis, has come under scrutiny after it emerged the deal was secured by a Scottish Government guarantee of £586 million to buy power from hydroelectric stations.

The deal means the Scottish government has “significant control” over Alvance, which has operated in Fort William since 1929.

The Scottish Government continues to insist it was ‘undoubtedly the right decision’ to back the deal, with a spokesperson saying GFG has launched a ‘restructuring and transformation committee’ following the SFO investigation.

“Lochaber businesses are aware of their account maintenance obligations,” the statement read. “GFG has undertaken activities to improve corporate governance, including the establishment of the Restructuring and Transformation Committee in the UK.

“Providing the financial guarantee to protect jobs in the area, support further investment in the site and promote the industry in Scotland, was undoubtedly the right decision.”

Although GFG did not provide details of the most recent deals, a spokesperson told the Press & Journal that the foundry enjoyed “good earnings performance last year” thanks to a global price. robust aluminum, which in turn “provides a good platform” for GFG’s plans to develop a billet casting and recycling plant in Fort William.

The Unite union also confirmed that workers at the factory had reached a three-year wage agreement, underlining the continued demand for the company’s product.

The GFG spokesperson added: “We are continuing our design and engineering work and working with the local Chamber of Commerce to overcome a housing shortage so that we can develop local talent for our long-term skilled jobs. “

The foundry employs around 200 people, up 40 since 2016 according to the Scottish government, but well below the 2,000 jobs Gupta pledged to create when it bought the facility.

Rennie demanded more transparency from the GFG and the Scottish Government. “We need openness from the company about the future of jobs and the factory and we also need honesty from the Scottish Government about taxpayers’ exposure as a result of the government financial guarantee of several million pounds.

“We got next to nothing in return for this guarantee and the promised 2,000 jobs did not materialize,” he added. “We need the SNP government to be candid now.”

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