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Paris probe LafargeHolcim managers investigated over Syria payments

The civil war in Syria has been raging since 2011

(Keystone)

Proceedings have begun in France against three managers of cement making giant LafargeHolcim in relation to allegations that the company had financial links with jihadists in Syria.

The trio appeared before a magistrate in Paris on Friday who has initiated an investigation into allegations of "financing a terrorist enterprise" and "endangering the lives of others", according to the Swiss news agency.   

They stand accused of facilitating payments to people with links to the Islamic State group between 2013 and 2014, which allowed a Lafarge plant in Syria to stay in operation. Lafarge merged with Swiss-based company Holcim in 2015 to create the world’s largest cement producer.

Lafarge is also accused of buying oil from IS in Syria, violating a EU oil embargo against Syria, which has been in force since autumn 2011.

LagfargeHolcim declined to comment on the latest development, but the company has conducted its own investigation into the allegations. It concluded that payments had been made by the Syrian-based Lafarge plant to a third party who had been hired to communicate with armed groups in the conflict stricken country.

“Findings also confirm that, although these measures were instigated by local and regional management, selected members of Group management were aware of circumstances indicating that violations of Lafarge’s established standards of business conduct had taken place,” the company stated in April.

The scandal forced the resignation of former LafargeHolcim CEO Eric Olsen a month later.

The initial complaint against Lafarge was filed in Paris last year by two human rights watchdog groups.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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