Lafarge to face charges for paying Islamic state in Syria

Lafarge to face charges for paying Islamic state in Syria
20 May 2022

A French appeals court has confirmed that the cement giant Lafarge must face charges of complicity in crimes against humanity over alleged payoffs to Islamic State group and other jihadist groups during Syria's civil war, reports France 24.

Lafarge, now part of Holcim group, has acknowledged that it paid nearly EUR13m (US$13.7m) to middlemen to keep its Syrian cement factory operating in 2013-14, long after other French firms had pulled out of the country.

The company contends that it had no responsiblity for the money winding up in the hands of terrorist groups and in 2019 it won a court ruling that threw out the charge of complicity in crimes against humanity.

But that ruling was overturned by France's supreme court, which ordered a retrial in September 2021, and the decision this week means that a judge could order Lafarge and eight of its executives, including former CEO, Bruno Lafont, to stand trial.

The appeals court sided with prosecutors who said Lafarge had "financed, via its subsidiaries, Islamic State operations with several millions of euros in full awareness of its activities."

It also upheld charges of financing terrorism and endangering the lives of others for putting its Syrian employees at risk as IS insurgents took over large swaths of the country, forcing Lafarge to eventually abandon its cement plant in Jalabiya, near Aleppo, in September 2014.

The company had invested EUR680min the construction of the plant, which was completed in 2010.

Lawyers for Lafarge declined to comment on the ruling. The case was launched in 2017 by former Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) employees backed by NGOs.

Published under Cement News

Tagged Under: Syria Lafarge Holcim Middle East