Cement company Lafarge penalized $778M US for sending money to terrorist groups in Syria

French cement company Lafarge on Tuesday pleaded guilty to paying millions of dollars to the Islamic State group so a factory in Syria could continue operating, a case the US Justice Department described as the first. first of this type.

The company agreed to pay a criminal penalty of approximately $91 million and a further loss of $687 million, for a total fine of approximately $778 million.

Prosecutors accused Lafarge of turning a blind eye to the militant group’s activities, paying the group in 2013 and 2014 when it occupied large swaths of Syria and some of its members engaged in investigations. attack or decapitate kidnapped Westerners.

The company’s action occurred prior to its merger with Swiss company Holcim in 2015 to form the world’s largest cement producer.

“The defendants made illegal payments of nearly $6 million to two of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations – ISIS and the Al-Nusrah Front in Syria – at a time when these groups were brutalizing innocent civilians. crimes in Syria and actively conspired to harm Americans,” Assistant Attorney General General Matthew Olsen, the top national security official for the US Department of Justice, said in a statement.

“There is simply no justification for a multinational corporation to authorize payments to a designated terrorist organization,” he added.

The allegations of violating US export control laws and existing sanctions against business in Syria, were filed by federal prosecutors in New York City and senior department officials. Justice from Washington announced.

The company said it fired its chief executive

Allegations related to the behavior were previously investigated by French authorities. Previously, Lafarge admitted to transferring money to Syrian armed organizations in 2013 and 2014 to ensure the safe travel of employees and supplies to their factories.

In 2014, the company was charged with preliminary charges, including financing a terrorist business and complicity in crimes against humanity.

Recorder24:47UK teenagers join ISIS, Canada charged with cover-up

It has been seven years since British teenager Shamima Begum, then 15, entered Syria with two schoolmates to join ISIS. One of Begum’s friends has been missing since then, and the other is believed to have been killed in an air strike on Raqqa. Begum herself disappeared for years before confronting a journalist in the al-Hawl prison camp in 2019, begging to be returned to the UK for the safety of her child, who later died. died. Now, the BBC says the man who brought the girls into Syria was actually a double agent, providing information to Canadian intelligence as he trafficked for ISIS. A new book by UK-based writer Richard Kerbaj also accuses Canada of asking British officials to help cover up the connection. BBC journalist Joshua Baker interviewed Begum for the upcoming podcast, I’m Not A Monster: The Shamima Begum Story. Today, what he learns about Begum’s journey and Canadian involvement from her alleged smuggler’s record.

A French court later denied the charges related to crimes against humanity but said other charges would be considered based on payments to the armed forces in Syria. That ruling was later overturned by France’s supreme court, which ordered a retrial in September 2021.

In a statementHolcim said that when it learned of the allegations from the media in 2016, it voluntarily launched an investigation and made the findings publicly available. It also said it had fired former Lafarge executives who were involved in the payments.

“There is no conduct related to Holcim, having never operated in Syria, or any activity by Lafarge or its employees in the United States, and it is in stark contrast to everything Holcim stands for,” the company said. ty said.


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