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

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French cement company Lafarge pleaded responsible on Tuesday to paying hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to the Islamic State group so {that a} plant in Syria may stay open, a case that the U.S. Justice Department described as the primary of its sort.

The company agreed to pay prison fines of roughly $91 million US and forfeit an extra $687 million, for a complete penalty of roughly $778 million.

Prosecutors accused Lafarge of turning a blind eye to the conduct of the militant group, making funds to it in 2013 and 2014 because it occupied a broad swath of Syria and as a few of its members had been concerned in torturing or beheading kidnapped Westerners.

The company’s actions occurred earlier than it merged with Swiss company Holcim in 2015 to kind the world’s largest cement maker.

“The defendants routed almost $6 million in illicit funds to two of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations — ISIS and Al-Nusrah Front in Syria — at a time these groups had been brutalizing harmless civilians in Syria and actively plotting to hurt Americans,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the U.S. Justice Department’s prime nationwide safety official, mentioned in an announcement.

“There is just no justification for a multinational company authorizing funds to designated terrorist group,” he added.

The prices, for breaching U.S. export management legal guidelines and present sanctions for doing enterprise in Syria, had been introduced by federal prosecutors in New York City and by senior Justice Department leaders from Washington.

Company says it fired executives

The allegations contain conduct that was earlier investigated by authorities in France. Lafarge had beforehand acknowledged funnelling money to Syrian armed organizations in 2013 and 2014 to assure secure passage for staff and provide its plant.

In 2014, the company was handed preliminary prices, together with financing a terrorist enterprise and complicity in crimes towards humanity.

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It’s been seven years since British teen Shamima Begum, then 15 years previous, entered Syria with two college pals to be part of ISIS. One of Begum’s pals has since gone lacking, and the opposite was reportedly killed in an airstrike on Raqqa. Begum herself disappeared for years earlier than encountering a journalist in al-Hawl jail camp in 2019, begging to return to the U.Okay. for the security of her little one, who subsequently died. Now, the BBC says the person who smuggled the ladies into Syria was really a double agent, offering data to Canadian intelligence as he trafficked for ISIS. A brand new e-book by U.Okay.-based author Richard Kerbaj additionally accuses Canada of asking British officers to assist cowl up the connection. BBC journalist Joshua Baker has been interviewing Begum for the upcoming podcast, I’m Not A Monster: The Shamima Begum Story. Today, what he is discovered about Begum’s journey and Canada’s involvement from a file on her alleged smuggler.

A French court docket later quashed the fees involving crimes towards humanity however mentioned different prices can be thought of over funds made to armed forces in Syria. That ruling was later overturned by France’s supreme court docket, which ordered a retrial in September 2021.

In an announcement, Holcim mentioned that when it discovered of the allegations from the information media in 2016, it voluntarily carried out an investigation and disclosed the findings publicly. It additionally mentioned it fired the previous Lafarge executives who had been concerned in the funds.

“None of the conduct concerned Holcim, which has by no means operated in Syria, or any Lafarge operations or staff in the United States, and it’s in stark distinction with every part that Holcim stands for,” the company mentioned.

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