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Widening Probe LafargeHolcim ex-boss charged over alleged Syria terrorist payments

LafargeHolcim former CEO Eric Olsen

(Keystone)

The former boss of Franco-Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim has been charged in Paris with “funding a terrorist group” in a case involving the company’s operations in Syria. Eric Olsen is also under investigation for “endangering the lives of others”. He was placed under judicial supervision.

The case relates to the operations of Lafarge Cement Syria in 2013 and 2014. Olsen was CEO of LafargeHolcim from 2015 to July 2017. At the time of the facts under investigation he was director of human resources and then deputy CEO. 

He had been placed in preventive detention on Wednesday with two other former top managers of the group, Bruno Lafont and Christian Herrault. Three more former managers, including two ex-bosses of the cement works in Syria, were also put under investigation on Friday. 

+Read background to the case

Lafarge is accused of having facilitated payments to Islamic State (IS) in order to keep its cement works in the northern Syrian town of Jalabiya running despite the war. It is also accused of having bought oil from IS in violation of an EU embargo. 

Lafarge Cement Syria paid some $5.6 million (CHF5.59 million) to various armed groups in the country, including more than 500,000 to IS, according to a report commissioned by Lafarge from US consultancy Baker McKenzie. 

The company conducted its own investigation after the scandal broke in 2016. Lafarge merged with Swiss company Holcim in 2015. 

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

swissinfo.ch and agencies/jmc

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