German copper producer Aurubis executives face firings after fraud

Roland Harings, Chairman of the Executive Board of Aurubis AG, stands in front of the filter system of the environmental protection plant for reducing fugitive emissions (RDE) on the Aurubis AG plant site. Marcus Brandt/dpa
Roland Harings, Chairman of the Executive Board of Aurubis AG, stands in front of the filter system of the environmental protection plant for reducing fugitive emissions (RDE) on the Aurubis AG plant site. Marcus Brandt/dpa

Following losses in the the three-digit millions caused by fraud at the Hamburg-based copper producer Aurubis, three out of four executive board members are facing personal consequences, including chief executive Roland Harings.

Representatives of the supervisory board are currently holding "advanced talks with three executive board members about the termination of their executive board activities," Aurubis announced on Monday evening in a statement.

"The investigations will show that we have managed the company with all due diligence and responsibility," Harings himself said in mid-December.

In addition to Harings, chief financial officer Rainer Verhoeven and chief production officer Heiko Arnold will also lose their positions, the company said.

A final decision by the entire supervisory board is planned for Tuesday.

Harings will leave the executive board on September 30, Verhoeven on June 30 and Arnold on February 29, the statement said. "Until their early departure, these members of the executive board would continue to fulfil their respective duties."

With these changes, the supervisory board is responding to the damage caused at Aurubis following several spectacular cases of fraud and theft.

The supervisory board had commissioned a law firm to investigate the responsibility of the executive board in connection with the criminal offences.

Aurubis was targeted by criminals in several cases. In December, when presenting its annual results for 2022-23, the company reported a metal shortfall of €169 million ($184 million).

Due to the losses, earnings before interest and taxes (EBT), the most important internal performance indicator, fell by about a third to €349 million - with a decline in revenue of almost 8% to €17.1 billion.

According to earlier statements by Harings, Aurubis has now greatly strengthened its security precautions.

A large-scale fraud was particularly painful for the company. This came to light during regular checks of the metal stock. There were considerable deviations from the target stock as well as deviations in special samples of certain recycling deliveries.

Aurubis assumes that manipulated samples with high levels of valuable metals were submitted, but that the deliveries then contained significantly less valuable metals, which ultimately led to over-invoicing.