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Syria: Lafarge's internal investigation finds serious misjudgment & neglect in dealing with armed groups; CEO resigns

2013 Karm al Jabal Neighbourhood in Aleppo, Photo Credit Basma, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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Article
16 May 2017

LafargeHolcim's CEO resigns following evidence of the company's indirect financing of armed groups in Syria

Author: AFP

“French firm's CEO to quit amid claims of funding Syrian rebels”, 24 April 2017

French-Swiss cement maker LafargeHolcim said…its chief executive Eric Olsen is stepping down following an internal investigation into the company's activities in Syria. 

His resignation, which has been accepted by the group's board, will be effective on 15 July, LafargeHolcim said in a statement.

Olsen's departure follows an inquiry into the indirect financing by Lafarge of armed groups in Syria, a country torn by civil war, to keep one of its cement plants operational. 

"While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing, I believe my departure will contribute to bringing back serenity to a company that has been exposed for months on this case," [Olson] said.

In March, LafargeHolcim admitted that it had resorted to "unacceptable practices" to continue operations at one of its now-closed factories in Syria.

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Article
24 April 2017

Lafarge in Syria: the conclusion of their internal report admitted the implication of the parent company

Author: Sherpa

Successive departures...from Lafarge are the first significant steps of the company towards the recognition of its liability...following Sherpa’s complaint...for funding terrorism, complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The internal report, by admitting the French management’s involvement, confirms...the parent company was the final decider for the human rights violations perpetrated in Syria...[T]he French duty of care bill...will now obstruct such a lack of vigilance from a parent company on its supply chain...“Soft law" solutions proposed...are way insufficient and demonstrated their inefficiency...serious human rights violations have to be judged according to hard law in order to ensure justice...

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Article
24 April 2017

Lafarge Scandal Points to Difficulty for Businesses in War Zones

Author: Liz Alderman, New York Times (USA)

[Lafarge S.A.] announced that its chief executive...would resign after an internal investigation...found [its] Syrian [Cement Plant] operation’s managers paid off armed groups to allow safe passage for employees and keep supplies flowing...The company has argued that its local managers saw little [other] recourse...The French economy ministry is pursuing a lawsuit against the company over possible violations of international sanctions...Sherpa...accused the company of complicity in war crimes doing business with the terrorist group Islamic State...Lafarge has declined to publicize which local armed groups it funded, saying only that it involved “sanctioned parties.”...Lafarge said it would create an ethics and integrity committee...

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Article
24 April 2017

LafargeHolcim concludes independent investigation into legacy Syria operations and issues summary of investigation findings

Author: LafargeHolcim

[M]anagers of legacy Lafarge operations were alleged to have had dealings with certain armed groups and sanctioned parties at Lafarge’s plant in Syria...[LafargeHolcim's Board] commissioned an internal investigation...[and] concluded that [the CEO] was not responsible...[as well as that] LCS [Lafarge Cement Syria] used intermediaries...without regard to the identity of the groups involved...The combination of the war zone chaos and the “can-do” approach...may have caused [local management] to seriously misjudge the situation...inconsistent with Lafarge’s policies. Its compliance program...failed to prevent these breaches...There have been significant changes and developments made to the compliance program and infrastructure since...

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