As part of its guilty plea, French cement maker Lafarge-Holcim has acknowledged that it paid nearly $12.8 million to armed groups, including Daesh terror organisation in Syria, and agreed to pay a fine to the US Justice Department.
French cement maker Lafarge has pleaded guilty to a US charge that it made payments to groups designated as terrorists by the United States, including Daesh, according to a court hearing.
The admission in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday marked the first time a company has pleaded guilty in the United States to charges of providing material support to a terrorist organisation.
Lafarge acknowledged that it paid nearly $12.8 million (13 million euros ) to middlemen to keep its Syrian cement factory running in 2013 and 2014, long after other firms had pulled out of the country.
Lafarge SA and its defunct subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria "have agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organisations in Syria," it said.
"Lafarge SA and LCS have accepted responsibility for the actions of the individual executives involved, whose behaviour was in flagrant violation of Lafarge's Code of Conduct.
"We deeply regret that this conduct occurred and have worked with the US Department of Justice to resolve this matter."
Lafarge, which became part of Swiss-listed Holcim in 2015, is also facing charges of complicity in crimes against humanity in Paris for keeping a factory running in Syria after a conflict broke out in 2011.
TRT World played a critical role in exposing Lafarge's illegal activities in Syria through a documentary "The Factory: A Covert French Operation."
“TRT’s work on this Lafarge story has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’m not sure this could have ever happened without TRT,” said American constitutional law expert Bruce DelValle.
READ MORE: Daesh man behind Paris attacks 'attended meetings' of French intel, Lafarge
“TRT’s work on this Lafarge story has been nothing short of extraordinary. I’m not sure this could have ever happened without TRT”— TRT World (@trtworld) October 18, 2022
Constitutional law expert Bruce DelValle following US court decision to fine French cement company for supporting Daesh in Syria pic.twitter.com/Z7xKdtOBn1
The cement maker previously admitted after an internal investigation that its Syrian subsidiary paid armed groups to help protect staff at the plant. But it had denied charges that it was complicit in crimes against humanity.
Lafarge Chair Magali Anderson said in court that from August 2013 until November 2014 former executives of the company "knowingly and willfully agreed to participate in a conspiracy to make and authorise payments intended for the benefit of various armed groups in Syria."
"The individuals responsible for this conduct have been separated from the company since at least 2017," she said.
In a statement, Holcim noted that none of the conduct involved Holcim, "which has never operated in Syria, or any Lafarge operations or employees in the United States, and it is in stark contrast with everything that Holcim stands for."
Holcim said that former Lafarge executives involved in the conduct concealed it from Holcim, as well as from external auditors.
The SIX Swiss Exchange suspended trading in Holcim shares before the news.
READ MORE: Lafarge indicted for 'complicity in crimes against humanity' in Syria