Fraudsters have stolen approximately €185 million ($198 million) worth of copper from Aurubis, Europe’s largest copper producer. The theft is suspected to involve possible insider assistance, as inflated invoices for shipments of scrap metal were paid based on manipulated samples showing higher copper content than was actually delivered. These losses have prompted Aurubis to revise down its pre-tax profit forecast for the current fiscal year by about €170 million ($182 million).
Aurubis had identified “past criminal activities” in June, leading to investigations involving current and former employees, as well as individuals from other companies working at the Aurubis plant. While some suspects have been arrested, ongoing investigations will determine if the same criminals were involved in both the earlier cases and the recent theft disclosed in August.
Aurubis produces about 1.1 million tonnes of copper cathodes per year at plants in Europe and the United States. The company accounts for approximately 30% of Europe’s copper cathode production and 3% to 5% of global output. Copper is vital in various industries, including construction, renewable energy technologies like wind turbines and solar panels, and electric vehicles.