Cement firm Lafarge pleads guilty to supporting IS

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Image Source: Globe News Insider

Lafarge, a French cement manufacturer, has admitted to funding the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in the United States.

The company agreed to pay a $777.8 million (£687.2 million) fine for its payments to maintain a facility in Syria after the conflict there began in 2011.

According to prosecutors, it was the first time a firm had admitted to helping terrorists in the United States.

Lafarge expressed its profound regret for the circumstances and accepted responsibility for each executive involved.

The cement producer claimed their actions had been in “flagrant violation” of Lafarge’s code of conduct after being acquired by the Swiss company Holcim in 2015.

Following a $680 million investment, the company launched its plant in Jalabiya, close to the Turkish border, in 2010.

According to U.S. authorities, Lafarge’s Syrian subsidiary paid the Islamic State, and another terrorist organization, al Nusra Front, the equivalent of $5.92 million to protect the plant’s employees as the civil conflict in that nation grew more violent. Executives compared the arrangements to paying “taxes,” they claimed.

When Islamic State eventually took over the town and the factory in September 2014, Lafarge evacuated the facility. Prosecutors claimed that the trades increased the company’s sales by $70.3m before it left.

In the past, Lafarge acknowledged that bribes were paid following an internal probe. But, according to U.S. Deputy Attorney Lisa Monaco, the company’s activities “represent corporate crime that has reached a new low and a very dark place,” she added on Tuesday.

Lafarge new owners deny involvement 

The current owner of Lafarge, Holcim, issued a statement claiming that none of the actions included Holcim, which has never had a presence in Syria.

Additionally, it said that former Lafarge executives who were complicit in the bribery had kept it a secret from Holcim and outside auditors.

Following an examination of Lafarge’s involvement in Syria, Eric Olsen, who served as CEO from 2015 to 2017, resigned from his position.

At the time, Mr. Olsen claimed he had committed no misconduct and was stepping down to instill “serenity” throughout the organization.

According to the Department of Justice, senior Lafarge executives were involved in the agreements and were aware they ran the danger of breaking the law.

Executives had tried to prevent Lafarge from using the term “Lafarge” on documents memorializing and carrying out their agreements. In addition, the Department claimed that many of those involved in the plot utilized personal email accounts rather than corporate email addresses to carry out the conspiracy.

To falsely imply that negotiations with Islamic State had not taken place after the U.N. resolution. Lafarge executives also backdated the termination agreement to August 18, 2014, a day after the United Nations Security Council had issued a resolution urging member states to forbid doing business with Islamic State, the Department claimed.

Heinous crimes 

According to Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where the lawsuit was launched, the conduct of a Western corporation was despicable and had no precedence or justification.

Peace stated during a news conference where she announced the guilty plea that the accused had given [millions of dollars to Islamic State]. As a result, the Islamic State, a terrorist organization that had previously operated on a shoestring budget, was able to recruit new members, wage war against countries, and carry out heinous terrorist atrocities against people worldwide, including Americans.

Lafarge is accused of committing crimes against humanity in France due to its operations in Syria, but the business vigorously refutes the allegations.