HM Revenue & Customs has dropped court cases to wind up four companies run by Sanjeev Gupta over unpaid tax bills totalling more than £26 million.

According to a report in UK newspaper the Financial Times, the tax authority last month issued winding-up petitions against a group of key businesses in Gupta’s British Liberty Steel operations, which collectively employ more than 2,000 people, including at its two main plants at Rotherham and Stocksbridge in Yorkshire. All four of the cases have now been withdrawn, court records show. The case against Speciality Steel, which owed £19.8 million in tax, was pulled on 4th March and the remaining three on 7 March.

The move is a reprieve for Gupta, whose Gupta Family Group Alliance is currently under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. The four court cases risked plunging large parts of his Liberty Steel business into insolvency, a scenario that had prompted the government to consider action to protect workers.

“We have a strong track record of taking a supportive approach when it comes to viable businesses.”

Spokesperson for HMRC

Court hearings for the winding-up petitions for the businesses — Speciality Steel UK, Liberty Pipes (Hartlepool), Liberty Performance Steels and Liberty Merchant Bar — had been scheduled for this month. “We have a strong track record of taking a supportive approach when it comes to viable businesses,” HMRC said, adding that “we don’t comment on identifiable taxpayers”.

Gupta has previously won a reprieve from attempts by Credit Suisse to force some of his companies out of business over unpaid debts. Speciality Steel, Liberty Pipes (Hartlepool) and Liberty Merchant Bar also each took out £50 million emergency Covid-19 loans guaranteed by taxpayers. The state-owned British Business Bank has suspended these guarantees, however, after launching an investigation into Greensill.

Source: Financial Times