View of the Lafarge Cement plant in Paris, France on September 8, 2021.
Julien Mattia | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Lafarge SA agreed on Tuesday to plead guilty and pay a $777.8 million fine to clear a U.S. criminal charge related to payments by a French company to the terrorist organization ISIS to maintain a cement plant in Syria.
Nearly $17 million was paid to ISIS from August 2013 to October 2014, even as the terrorist group kidnapped and killed Westerners.
An investigation that indicted Lafarge and its defunct Syrian subsidiary in US District Court in Brooklyn, New York on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, is ongoing. No person has been charged.
The Justice Department has scheduled an 11 a.m. ET press conference on the case at the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Lafarge was bought by the Swiss Holsim in 2015.
Lafarge said in a statement: “Lafarge SA and [Lafarge Cement Syria] took responsibility for the actions of individual executives whose conduct was in gross violation of the Lafarge Code of Conduct.
“We deeply regret that this behavior occurred and have been working with the US Department of Justice to resolve this issue,” LaFarge said.
Holcim, in a statement to CNBC, said it supported the plea agreement reached by Lafarge with the Justice Department.
“None of the actions involved Holcim, which has never operated in Syria, or any Lafarge operations or employees in the United States, in stark contrast to everything Holcim stands for,” Holcim said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Justice noted that the former Lafarge SA and [Lafarge Cement Syria] The executives involved in this behavior kept this from Holcim before and after Holcim acquired Lafarge SA, as well as from external auditors,” Holcim said.
“When Holcim became aware of the allegations through media reports in 2016, Holcim actively and voluntarily conducted an extensive investigation under the direction of a major US law firm and under the supervision of the Board of Directors. leaders of Lafarge SA and LCS involved in these events.”
In 2018, French authorities charged Lafarge with payments to ISIS for alleged involvement in crimes against humanity.
In a statement on Tuesday, Lafarge said it “continues to cooperate fully with the French authorities in their investigation of the conduct and will defend itself against any judicial action that it considers unreasonable in French proceedings.”
Holcim said in a statement that the Justice Department has determined that it is not necessary to appoint an independent compliance monitor for Lafarge because Holcim has effective compliance and risk management controls in place to detect potential such behavior.
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