Codelco workers suspected of stealing over $80m in copper

Codelco sues employees suspected of stealing over $80 million in copper

El Salvador division, courtesy of Codelco via Flickr..

Chile’s State Defense Council, in representation of world’s top copper producer Codelco, is suing 22 people involved in one of the biggest robberies of the mineral in the company's history, worth more than $80 million ($45 billion pesos).

According to La Tercera (in Spanish) copper concentrate was regularly stolen from the state-owned firm by a transport company that would drive trucks from the Escondida operation to an abandoned mine, break locks and change the material for low-grade copper ore, before arriving to destination, at El Salvador division.

The trucks that reached Codelco managed to pass quality checks because employees of the contractor firm Ingecom assigned to do that job were in on the scam.

According to the investigation, between five and six trucks per day were involved in the fraud since 2011.

The Council warned that if any Codelco employee is found guilty, even in the event they just chose not to denounce the crime, will be charged as accomplices of misappropriation of public funds.

Copper accounts for 60% of Chile's exports and 15% of gross domestic product.