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U.K. Serious Fraud Office Opens Tata Inquiry, Telegraph Says

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into Tata Steel Ltd. over allegations related to certificates used to verify the composition of products, the Daily Telegraph said, citing unidentified sources.

Mumbai-based Tata Steel, which is seeking to sell its U.K. businesses, referred itself to the fraud office after an internal audit that suggested inappropriate testing and certification, the newspaper said on Thursday. The documents involve 500 customers, the Telegraph reported, without saying when the investigation was opened.

A London-based spokeswoman for the Serious Fraud Office declined to comment when reached by Bloomberg News by phone. Chanakya Chaudhary, a New-Delhi based spokesman for Tata Steel, also declined on Friday to comment on the report.

Tata is scheduled to begin talks next week with Liberty House Group about selling its Port Talbot plant and its British processing operations as it seeks to exit its U.K. businesses.

The Indian steelmaker said last week it’s considering the sale of its unprofitable U.K. division, citing global oversupply, high costs and rising steel exports that mean trading conditions in the U.K. and Europe have deteriorated. The move may jeopardize about 40,000 jobs. Steelmakers around the world have seen profits eroded by a flood of cheap exports from China.

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