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Swiss-French cement giant paid protection money to Syrian extremists

Europe
02.03.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - The world‘s largest maker of building materials, LafargeHolcim, paid protection money to extremists in Syria to keep one of its plants running, the firm admitted Thursday.

The Swiss-French company called the past arrangements "unacceptable" as it published the results of an internal investigation, launched in reaction to allegations that it had paid off the Islamic State group.

Before France-based Lafarge merged with the Swiss Holcim group in 2015, it had operated a cement plant in Jalabiya in northern Syria until 2014, supplying a third of the country‘s market.

Various armed groups sought control of the area in the course of the war.

The local Lafarge factory paid intermediaries to work out deals with several armed groups, including extremists that are covered by sanctions, to ensure safe passage for employees and continued operations at the plant, LafargeHolcim said in a statement.

"In hindsight, the measures required to continue operations at the plant were unacceptable," it said.

The statement did not confirm whether Islamic State was one of those groups.

The company said it would strengthen its efforts to meet business ethics standard.

Human rights and business ethics activists, as well as former Syrian Lafarge employees have filed a lawsuit in France over the company‘s deal with Islamic State.

LafargeHolcim made a net profit of 1.8 billion Swiss francs (1.8 billion dollars) last year, after a loss of 1.5 billion francs in 2015.

 

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