Aurubis is missing precious metals worth 185 million euros due to theft and fraud.

Die Schockwellen waren groß, als Aurubis Anfang September mitteilte, dass man einem großangelegten Betrug auf die Spur gekommen war. Schaden in dreistelliger Millionenhöhe, Ergebnisprognose kassiert: da flüchteten die Anleger, der größte Kupfer-Recycler Europas verlor an der Börse kurzfristig fast ein Fünftel seines Werts. Kaum drei Wochen später sieht man klarer. Der Aktienkurs kletterte zeitweilig um 5 Prozent, nachdem das Hamburger Unternehmen Details zu den Ergebnissen der Sonderinventur berichtete. Der Schaden indes ist nicht gering: Edelmetallen im Wert von 185 Millionen Euro fehlen im Bestand.

Susanne Preuß

Wirtschaftskorrespondentin in Hamburg.

This includes not only the recently discovered fraud through manipulated samples, which apparently allowed some suppliers of precious metal-containing recycling material to receive excessive payments from Aurubis. Also included in this inventory difference is the damage caused by the theft of precious metals from the factory. This case became public in June through a major raid, during which the police arrested several individuals and seized a portion of the loot as well as valuables worth a total of 20 million euros. The State Criminal Police Office of Hamburg is investigating both cases.

Aurubis did not quantify the damage from this theft in the summer and currently does not want to provide specific information about it. While both the fraud with recycling material and the theft of precious metals have apparently been practiced for years, the detected inventory discrepancy of 185 million euros refers solely to this year. As a result, Aurubis‘ profit for the fiscal year 2022/2023, ending on September 30, will decrease. However, the full 185 million euros will not be reflected. Aurubis expects insurance benefits of approximately 30 million euros, and the value of the seized items will also be taken into account.

The yield decreases significantly.

The new forecast for Aurubis‘ results is significantly lower than before. Previously, an operating profit of 450 to 550 million euros was expected, but now the company is only calculating with 310 to 350 million euros. The operating return on invested capital is now only 8 to 12 percent instead of the previously predicted 14 to 18 percent. This indicates that the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which ends in a few days, must have performed worse than expected. Aurubis has announced that details about the fiscal year and a forecast for 2023/24 will be provided on December 6th.

It is unclear to what extent the criminal cases have already led to significant damages in previous years. Currently, it is not expected that the financial statements would need to be recreated, according to a spokesperson from Aurubis. While Aurubis shareholders can already be considered victims, it is emphasized in Hamburg that this does not apply to customers: „Aurubis can exclude that customers are affected by the fraud case.“

To enhance the protection of business processes against criminal activities, the Hamburg company has formed a working group that includes forensic experts from an external consulting firm. Immediate measures taken include additional personnel and vehicle checks, as well as restricted access permissions for sensitive areas, particularly sample collection. The supervisory board of Aurubis AG is also taking action. They have established a special committee on „Security“ to monitor the progress of occupational and plant safety measures, with support from the law firm Hengeler Mueller.