A merchandise trader has been the victim of a fraudulent transaction. Last summer, the Swiss company took delivery of three hundred containers filled with painted paving stones instead of more than thirty million euros of copper.
Geneva-based Mercuria Energy Group, one of the five largest oil traders in the world, has bought tons of so-called copper blister, which is an impure form of the mineral. Millions of copper will be shipped to China by Turkish supplier Betsan Bekir. But when the shipments arrived in China – 6,000 tons of “copper”, distributed over 300 containers over eight ships – it turned out to be painted bricks.
The BBC wrote that the strange case occurred despite security checks and searches.
It appears that the buyer was initially loaded into containers at the port of Istanbul, before being inspected by an inspection company. Seals have been placed on containers to prevent fraud. But the containers opened after inspection and the buyer was replaced with paving stones coated with paint, Istanbul’s KYB law firm told the media. Fraudsters have switched between fake and real stamps to avoid detection.
When the shipment was on its way, Mercuria paid the supplier more than 30 million euros in five installments. The fraud was only discovered when the ships arrived at the Chinese port of Lianyungang later that month.
Mercuria is now seeking fairness in Turkish and British courts against copper supplier Betsan Bekir. Turkish police have arrested a number of people in connection with the fake copper. “The suspects who are believed to be involved in various parts of this organized crime against Mercury have been arrested,” the company said in a statement.
According to the Turkish police, “the incident was determined to be the result of organized fraud.” In the event of non-delivery, the merchant can file a claim on the cargo insurance policy. But Mercuria was not so lucky either: the company found that only one in seven contracts the Turkish company used to insure the shipment was original. The rest is forged.
Betsan Bakr did not respond to requests for comment when contacted by Reuters news agency. Further hearings are expected on this issue this week.
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