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All About the Massive Scam That Exposed Chinks in the Armour of a Major Copper Producer

Negligence within supply chains and other operational processes can lead to significant financial losses.
Cover Image Source: Scrap copper | Getty Images | Photo by Sascha Schuermann
Cover Image Source: Scrap copper | Getty Images | Photo by Sascha Schuermann

No industry has been left untouched by fraudulent schemes, and now a scam has also penetrated the metal sector as one of the world's largest copper producer, Aurubis, has been hit by scandal. The company recently faced a staggering loss of $198 million, as the fraud unfolded on a large scale, involving company employees and suppliers. Investigators say that the fraud occurred through the falsification of metal container quantities and values on invoices. However, Aurubis plans to recoup its losses through insurance claims, capped at around $34.5 million, and is actively pursuing the culprits. 


The fallout from this loss has been severe, with Aurubis stock plummeting by 18%. This incident follows another criminal attempt earlier last year when a group tried to steal the company's metals. 

Aurubis had initially projected pre-tax earnings of $485 million for the 2022-23 financial year. However, following the million-euro fraud, the company has retracted its forecasts, grappling with the daunting task of recovering from substantial losses.


Aurubis, formed through the merger of Cumerio and Norddeutsche Affinerie in 1866, operates as a publicly traded corporation. Salzgitter AG holds the majority stake in Aurubis, followed by Silchester International Investors LLP and BlackRock Inc. Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, the company focuses on recycling materials into valuable commodities, with production and sales spanning three continents and over 20 countries.

Moreover, the company has emerged as a global leader in copper recycling and non-ferrous material production, driven by a longstanding commitment to sustainability and innovation spanning more than 150 years. Through recycling and processing copper products and producing metal concentrates, Aurubis preserves the purity and value of materials. The company continually explores innovative techniques and invests in employee education to ensure the production of environmentally friendly products.


The scam has led to scrutiny regarding oversight lapses, since it isn't possible for a single individual or error to orchestrate such a massive fraud. This points towards a series of missed indicators that scammers exploited, resulting in substantial losses for the copper market leader. 

Following the scam, Aurubis AG is in the process of considering the termination of contracts for its chief executive and two other executive board members. The supervisory board of the company is engaged in advanced discussions with Chief Executive Officer Roland Harings, Chief Financial Officer Rainer Verhoeven, and Chief Operating Officer Heiko Arnold regarding the potential termination of their contracts, as announced by the company last month. Additionally, the company disclosed the possibility of appointing Markus Kramer from the supervisory board to the executive board.

Moreover, the CEO stated that the company had undertaken comprehensive process revisions to minimize the possibility of similar fraud incidents recurring, aiming to make such occurrences "difficult if not impossible."


In the volatile landscape of business, crises or frauds can strike unexpectedly, with no predetermined extent of damage. Thus, proactive preparation is key, involving establishing fixed provisions and reserves to cushion potential losses and prevent bankruptcy. A meticulously crafted plan, coupled with effective execution and strategic implementation, can protect organizations against becoming a victim of such unforeseen circumstances.