India’s Tata Steel said Saturday that Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is investigating a lapse in procedures at its steel-making site in Yorkshire, as the group seeks to sell its UK operations.
In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Tata confirmed media reports of an SFO probe, saying it notified fraud investigators after discovering the problems in 2015.
“...During an internal audit conducted by the company, certain inappropriate testing and certification procedures at the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels business were identified,” Tata said in the filing, signed by company secretary Parvatheesam Kanchinadham.
Tata did not specify the issues, but the UK’s Daily Telegraph said police were probing allegations staff may have falsified certificates detailing the composition of its steel before sale.
Tata said that after discovering the problems it immediately stopped the improper practices, alerted more than 600 direct and indirect customers and notified bodies including the SFO, which has opened a criminal investigation.
“Since this initial notification Tata Steel has been cooperating fully with the Serious Fraud Office on their investigation,” Tata said in the filing.
Tata will start the process of selling its British steel assets by Monday, the UK government’s Business Secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this week after holding talks in Mumbai.
Javid has said his government will make every effort to secure a serious buyer for Tata’s Port Talbot plant in Wales and other assets, with up to 15,000 jobs put at risk by the sale plans.