Watchdog bites Gupta group over late payments

The Australian, February 8, 2019

The industrial group owned by British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta will immediately address overdue payments to suppliers in the South Australian steelworks city of Whyalla after meeting Australia’s small business watchdog.

Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell yesterday spoke with senior GFG Alliance executives after her office received several complaints from businesses struggling with cashflow problems. Those complaints related not only to overdue payments but to what Ms Carnell said were unreasonable “62 days from end of month” payment terms.

“We’ve got an undertaking they (GFG) will immediately ­address those businesses whose payments are outside their stated times,” Ms Carnell said. “They were being told ‘We’ll pay you next week’ but then they haven’t been paid.

“We’re talking about significant amounts of money that make a difference to cash flow.

“GFG claim they didn’t know there were payments outside standard payment times. The ­reality is that’s not OK.”

Mr Gupta bought the steelworks last year after previous ­operator Arrium fell into administration.

GFG also inherited Arrium’s existing payment terms, a spokeswoman said. “We have reached out to affected parties and are working through issues as a matter of priority,” she said