Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Syria

Lafarge offices searched over Syria business links

By AFP 15/11/2017
Lafarge clung on in Syria for two years after most French companies had left as ISIS made major territorial gains. Photo: AFP/File / Thomas Samson
Lafarge clung on in Syria for two years after most French companies had left as ISIS made major territorial gains. Photo: AFP/File / Thomas Samson
French investigators searched the offices of French-Swiss cement maker Lafarge Tuesday, the company said, as part of an enquiry into financial links to jihadist groups in Syria, including Islamic State.

"French investigators are in the process of investigating our offices," a Lafarge spokeswoman told AFP, confirming a report to that effect by France Inter radio.

"We are cooperating fully with investigators, but we cannot make any further comment on this ongoing inquiry," she said.

A source close to the case said Belgian police were conducting a similar search at the offices of one of Lafarge's subsidiaries in Brussels.

Since June, three French judges have been investigating reported money transfers by Lafarge to groups in Syria, including ISIS, to keep operations up and running at its Jalabiya cement works in northern Syria in 2013 and 2014, despite the conflict engulfing the country.

The investigation is also seeking to determine whether Lafarge knew of any corresponding financial agreements and whether Syrian employees were put at risk given the precarious security situation.

Lafarge clung on in Syria for two years after most French companies had left as ISIS made major territorial gains, extending its influence over vast swathes of the country. The group eventually took over the Jalabiya plant in September 2014.

To ensure protection of its staff between 2013 and 2014, Lafarge Cement Syria paid between $80,000 and $100,000 a month to various armed groups, including $20,000 to ISIS, according to a source close to the year-old investigation first revealed last year by Le Monde daily.

Weeks after the story broke with Le Monde saying Lafarge in Paris knew of the reported arrangements, the French treasury opened an investigation.

- 'Mistakes in Syria' -

Lafarge, which in 2015 merged with Swiss counterpart Holcim, has already admitted to "unacceptable mistakes committed in Syria".

A report by the French national customs judicial department, seen by AFP, has concluded that the company "made payments to jihadist groups" to allow the plant to stay on stream.

The report goes on to say that the firm validated the transactions using false accounting documents.

A statement from Lafarge Tuesday said the company "strongly condemned the mistakes made in Syria" and had taken measures to ensure the situation cannot be repeated.

The case was treated "with the utmost seriousness at the heart of the company, which in 2016 tasked a law firm to carry out an independent investigation."

Some figures at Lafarge have stated Paris backed the company's determination to retain a foothold in Syria, despite the war, in order to be at the front of the queue for future lucrative reconstruction contracts there.

A senior Lafarge official has told investigators the company had the blessing of the government of the previous Socialist president Francois Hollande to stay on during the fighting.

 

The anti-corruption association Sherpa, one of 12 civil plaintiffs in the case, has called for former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius to be questioned over the payment.

 

French examining magistrates have so far questioned several Syrian former employees of the factory.

Comments

 
Post a New Comment
Comment as a guest or Login for more enhanced interactive experience

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

BIJI KDP BIJI YPG | 11/24/2017 10:27:11 AM
The Kurds of Bashur will not accept this. I love Barzani and I stand with YPG!
Erdogan sees likely cooperation with Assad against YPG
| 2 hours ago | (1)
What a SHAME! | 11/24/2017 2:46:56 AM
I am wondering: Do the KRG and its stupid spokesman, Safeez Dizayee, understand that by calling on the Iraqi government to respect the ruling of the...
guest2002 | 11/24/2017 10:24:11 AM
as I was suspecting , only morons are allowed to be part of KRG.DIDM'T IRAQI COURTS ,JUST RULED AGAINST THE KURDISH VOTE ??? HOW DUMB CAN YOU GET???...
KRG asks Baghdad to respect Federal Court ruling on referendum
| 16 hours ago | (3)
duroi | 11/24/2017 10:18:05 AM
UN is a membership club of states who pay membership fees and UN officials represent their interests. UN condemns the ISIS attack in Tuz Khormatu,...
The ethical missteps of Jan Kubis between Erbil and Baghdad
| 5 hours ago | (1)
Mohamedzzz | 11/18/2017 3:46:05 PM
Nobody can believe these politicians, the most corrupt politicians in EU are the Spanish politicians.
Hander Duukani | 11/24/2017 9:26:56 AM
Please stop relating the Spanish and Catalonian situation. There is no comparison. The unfortunate coincidence of the Catalonian referendum and the...
Spanish PM calls 'bodies on the streets' threats a lie
| 17/11/2017 | (2)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Erdogan sees likely cooperation with Assad against YPG 2 hours ago |

Erdogan sees likely cooperation with Assad against YPG

In politics there is nothing called "no way at more
Opposition calls for direct talks with Syria government 5 hours ago |

Opposition calls for direct talks with Syria government

Opposition says it has no conditions for talks to more
Gorran unveils 7-month interim government roadmap 14 hours ago | (2)

Gorran unveils 7-month interim government roadmap

Gorran focuses on finances and Peshmerga more
0.266 seconds