By Olesya Dmitracova, CNN
London (CNN) — Fraudsters stole 185 million euros ($198 million) worth of metal from Europe’s largest copper producer, possibly with the help of insiders, the company said. said Tuesday.
After carrying out an extraordinary inventory on August 31, the German company Aurubis found that it had paid inflated invoices for shipments of scrap metal and other inputs, based on samples manipulated to show much higher copper content. higher than had proven to be the case.
The inventory had established the extent of the company’s thefts disclosed on August 31 and in June, an Aurubis spokesperson told CNN. These losses forced Aurubis to reduce its pre-tax profit forecast for the current financial year by around 170 million euros ($182 million).
The company said on June 15, she had identified “past criminal activities” and that the prosecutor’s office and police in Hamburg, where Aurubis is based, were investigating “active and former employees of Aurubis” as well as people employed by others companies working at the Aurubis factory.
“The company has been providing all its support to the public prosecutor and the police for several years,” he adds, stressing that some of the suspects have been arrested.
That the same criminals are behind these past cases and that the theft revealed in August is the subject of ongoing investigations, the Aurubis spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The State Criminal Investigation Office in Hamburg is still investigating, the company said.
Hamburg police also told CNN earlier this month that they had opened an investigation, adding that there was “currently no evidence” that the most recent cases and the previous ones in Aurubis were linked.
Aurubis produces about 1.1 million tonnes (1.2 million tonnes) of “cathodes” or square sheets of copper per year at factories in Europe and the United States. The company represents around 30% of European production of this copper and 3 to 5% of global production.
Copper is widely used in construction, especially in electrical wires and water pipes. It is also an essential metal for the energy transition since it is used in wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars.
— Nadine Schmidt contributed reporting.
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