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14 Dec 2017

France: Several former Lafarge executives under formal investigation as part of inquiry into alleged financing of terrorist groups in Syria

In December 2017, French authorities placed several former Lafarge executives under official investigation for alleged "financing of terrorism" and "endangering the lives of others" in the context of a judicial inquiry launched in June 2017 against the Franco-Swiss cement group LafargeHolcim concerning the maintenance of its activities in Syria between 2011 and 2014 during the civil war. The investigation concerns alleged payments to terrorist groups including the Islamic State (IS) as well as the working conditions and security of Syrian employees at the Jalabiya factory in northern Syria.

In November 2016, NGOs Sherpa and ECCHR filed a complaint on behalf of former Syrian employees alleging funding of terrorist groups and complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The complaint was filed in France against Lafarge and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS).

In mid-December, Sherpa said that Lafarge had directly or indirectly paid 13 million to terrorist organizations. The NGO also requested the opening of an investigation for alleged obstruction of justice, evoking the "clearing" of essential elements and attempts to buy the silence of certain people auditioned in the framework of the investigation. Sherpa also questioned the "complacency or complicity" of the French authorities, which in its opinion failed to act in due course.

The LafargeHolcim group denied the accusations and said it cooperates with the French justice system.