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French Cement firm Lafarge pleads guilty to supporting ISIS; agrees to pay $778 million penalty

French Cement firm Lafarge pleads guilty to supporting ISIS; agrees to pay $778 million penalty

French Cement firm Lafarge pleads guilty to supporting ISIS; agrees to pay $778 million penalty
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By CNBCTV18.COMOct 19, 2022 10:37:51 AM IST (Published)

US prosecutors said Lafarge paid approximately $5.92 million to the Islamic State and al Nusra Front, through intermediaries, between 2013 and 2014.

French cement maker Lafarge has pleaded guilty to terrorist organisations Islamic State , including Islamic State (ISIS). The company and its defunct subsidiary, Lafarge Cement Syria, pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court marking the first time a company pleaded guilty in the US to charges of providing material support to terrorist organisations. Lafarge said the exchanges were made to protect its Syrian cement plant.

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Lafarge, which was bought by Swiss company Holcim in 2015, has agreed to pay $778 million in forfeiture and fines and serve a term of three years’ probation.
The Brooklyn US attorney's office had jurisdiction to bring the charges as some of the payments made by Lafarge were wire transfers that passed through its jurisdiction.
US prosecutors said Lafarge and its Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria paid Islamic State and al Nusra Front approximately $5.92 million between 2013 and 2014 through intermediaries. This was to allow employees, customers, and suppliers to pass through checkpoints after the conflict broke out in Syria. This allowed the company to earn $70 million in sales revenue from the plant it operated in northern Syria, Reuters reported.
Lafarge eventually evacuated the plant in September 2014, when the Islamic State took over control.
As per a Wall Street Journal report, the prosecutors said that the former Lafarge executives tried to negotiate a revenue-sharing agreement with the Islamic State while insisting that the company’s name is not on any contract with the terrorist group.
US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that Lafarge’s actions "reflect corporate crime that has reached a new low and a very dark place" in a news conference, as per the WSJ report.
Monaco said that French authorities have arrested some of the executives without disclosing their names. Business Standard reported that the court records refer to six unnamed Lafarge executives.
In a statement, the parent group of Lafarge, Holcim noted that none of the conduct involved Holcim, as the company has never operated in Syria. It does not involve any Lafarge operations or employees in the United States, and it is in stark contrast with everything that Holcim stands for.
Holcim said that the executives involved in the conduct concealed it from Holcim as well as from external auditors.
Lafarge also faces charges of complicity in crimes against humanity in France. However, the company denies the claim. The French investigation is ongoing, and it concerns acts partially committed in France and the company’s activities in Syria, Reuters reported.
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