US Fines Lafarge $778m For Financing ISIS In Syria
Lafarge cement company has pleaded guilty to paying armed groups in order to ease the movement of its staff and goods within a war zone in Syria.
United States Department of Justice (DoJ) in a statement said the cement company has been fined charged $778 million as a penalty after pleading guilty at a court in Brooklyn of conspiring to provide material support to the jihadist group ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
The company had denied allegations that it paid $15.3 million to the Islamic State to retain a cement plant north of Syria at the dawn of the country’s civil war in 2011.
It also denied having a hand in money getting to terrorists and made concerted efforts to have the suit nullified.
But in September 2021, it lost the battle when a top court in France quashed the decision of a lower court dismissing charges of the company’s involvement in crimes against humanity in war-torn Syria.
According to court filings from the plea deal the Justice Department reached with the company, Lafarge entered a revenue-sharing scheme with ISIS and the Al-Nusrah Front that produced millions of dollars for the terrorist groups.
“Lafarge made a deal with the devil,” US Attorney Breon Peace of the Eastern District of New York as saying at a press conference after the court proceedings.
“The Intermediaries court document further said Lafarge and Lafarge Cement Syria — a dormant subsidiary and a defendant in the prosecution, entered the conspiracy with “the explicit purpose of incentivizing ISIS to act in a manner that would promote LAFARGE’s and LCS’s security and economic interests.”
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said “the terrorism crimes to which Lafarge and its subsidiary have pleaded guilty are a vivid reminder of how corporate crime can intersect with national security.
“The defendants partnered with ISIS, one of the most brutal terrorist organizations the world has ever known, to enhance profits and increase market share — all while ISIS engaged in a notorious campaign of violence during the Syrian civil war.
“This case sends the clear message to all companies, but especially those operating in high-risk environments, to invest in robust compliance programs, pay vigilant attention to national security compliance risks, and conduct careful due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.”
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said Lafarge “routed nearly six million dollars in illicit payments to two of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations – ISIS and al-Nusrah Front in Syria – at a time those groups were brutalizing innocent civilians in Syria and actively plotting to harm Americans.
“There is simply no justification for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to designated terrorist organizations.”