United Kingdom

Sanjeev Gupta paid £100,000 a month for flat in Belgravia he left empty

Embattled steel mogul Sanjeev Gupta was paying £100,000 a month for a luxury Belgravia residence during the pandemic at the same time as issuing a public plea to the Prime Minister for cash. 

Gupta was not even inhabiting the extraordinary property, which has a basement swimming pool, as he was asking for more public money, according to documents seen by The Mail on Sunday.

In a bizarre twist, the Indian tycoon had to give up the property after paying out £1.8million in rent because he revealed in a newspaper article that he was living in his Welsh estate – despite claims he was in London.

Plush: Sanjeev and Nicola Gupta had to give up the property after paying out £1.8million in rent

The extraordinary story has emerged in High Court documents that detail how Gupta found himself at the centre of a battle between his landlords and their mortgage lender over a £24million loan. 

The saga sheds fresh light on the private life of a man who has risen from anonymity to lead a global steel empire and his sprawling private property portfolio. 

This includes the Welsh country estate Wyelands, near Chepstow, boasting a Grade-II listed Regency villa, a 114,000-acre Scottish estate and a colonial era mansion in Sydney, Australia.

Gupta has come under close scrutiny because his Liberty Steel group, which employs 5,000 British staff, is threatened with collapse. In a national newspaper column in April last year, Gupta lobbied Boris Johnson to provide financial help for the UK's steel industry.

Gupta wrote: 'The incumbent of Downing Street has shown he is willing to think big about the future of Britain. That must include a vision for the future of steel.'

It later transpired that, around the same time, Gupta gained access to about £400million in loans from the British Business Bank via Liberty's largest lender Greensill Capital. 

Greensill Capital filed for insolvency last month, adding to the financial pressure on Gupta's steel conglomerate.

Luxury: The five-storey flat, with a three-storey extension, boasts four en-suite bedrooms, several large reception rooms, staff accommodation, a pool, Jacuzzi and treatment room.

The relationship between Greensill Capital and Gupta's GFG Alliance, Liberty Steel's parent group, has since been the subject of widespread scrutiny and criticism.

It has also landed former Prime Minister David Cameron, an adviser to Greensill Capital with share options in the lender, in an increasingly toxic row after it emerged he lobbied Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help Greensill Capital access Government-backed loans during the pandemic. 

High Court documents show that Gupta was locked in a dispute of his own – with Luxembourg-based lender SF Addison – over the Eaton Square property as the pandemic unfolded.

The five-storey flat, with a three-storey extension, boasts four en-suite bedrooms, several large reception rooms, staff accommodation, a pool, Jacuzzi and treatment room. 

According to court documents, the property was used by Gupta, his wife Nicola, three children and two nannies. Gupta had taken out a three-year tenancy with Thai landlords Achara and Chatchai Tripipatkul for the apartment, paying £100,000 a month, with a year up front and another £600,000 due after six months.

Gupta rented the flat, which has a basement swimming pool, from Thai landlords Achara and Chatchai Tripipatkul

However, what Gupta did not know was that there were legal charges over the property following the landlords' decision to take out a £24million loan from a sister company of SF Addison in October 2017. 

Invariably a lender's consent is required to rent out a property and in this case there was no consent, the documents say. The court papers state that in September or October 2019 the landlords asked for consent to grant a tenancy but were turned down by Addison.

In December Addison called in the receivers after the landlords 'failed to repay the sums due under the mortgage'. But when 'the receivers attended the property on December 17, 2019, 'they discovered it was occupied by the defendant, his wife, three children and two nannies'. 

In late March 2020, Gupta's solicitors wrote to the claimant's solicitors stating their client is 'unable to vacate the property due to the Government's restrictions on movement'.

But a month later Gupta 'wrote an article in which he said 'I've been working from home at my house in a village on the Welsh borders'. In July 2020, a High Court consent order was granted, with Gupta 'surrendering' his tenancy of the property.

Such is the wealth of Gupta that he and his wife then bought a six-storey Belgravia townhouse, which was once owned by English aristocracy, to add to their collection.

A spokesman for Gupta declined to comment but a source said he was unaware the landlord could not rent out the property and had 'agreed to surrender' his tenancy.

A spokesman for Addison declined to comment. The Tripipatkuls are now pursuing a separate legal action against Addison.

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