Fraudsters steal €40 million from German car parts maker

German auto parts maker Leoni was punished on the stock market on Tuesday after admitting that fraudsters had walked away with €40 million.

Fraudsters steal €40 million from German car parts maker
Photo: DPA

“Leoni discovered on Friday August 12 that it had fallen victim to fraudulent dealings using faked documents and identities as well as electronic communications,” the company said in a statement.

“As a result, money belonging to the company was transferred to destination accounts abroad.”

The Nuremberg-based firm, which supplies electronics and wiring for cars and other industries and is listed on the German MDAX index of medium-sized firms, employs more than 76,000 people around the world.

Directors are examining insurance and compensation options, the statement said, while the crime has been reported to the police.

Leoni said that neither its data security nor its IT infrastructure were damaged by the scammers.

The company could not immediately say what effect the theft would have on its annual result.

But it insisted that “Leoni's liquidity position is not significantly impaired.”

The firm reported revenues of 4.5 billion euros in 2015.

Shares in Leoni had plunged more than 7.0 percent just after 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

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WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.