First Published: 2017-03-02

LafargeHolcim made deals with armed groups to keep Syria plant going
Cement maker admits it provided funds to third parties to work out arrangements with number of armed groups, including sanctioned parties, in order to remain operational.
Middle East Online

The alleged dealings took place during 2013

PARIS - Cement maker LafargeHolcim admitted on Thursday it had resorted to "unacceptable practices" to continue operations at one of its factories in Syria.

The admission comes after sources close to the case said in January that the French government had filed a legal complaint against Lafarge for buying oil in Syria to power the now-closed Jalabiya factory, in violation of sanctions.

The factory closed down before French cement maker Lafarge merged with Switzerland's Holcim in 2015.

"At times, different armed factions controlled or sought to control the areas around the plant," LafargeHolcim said in a statement following an internal investigation.

"It appears from the investigation that the local company provided funds to third parties to work out arrangements with a number of these armed groups, including sanctioned parties, in order to maintain operations and ensure safe passage of employees and supplies to and from the plant," it said.

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

The alleged dealings took place during 2013 when "the deterioration of the political situation in Syria posed very difficult challenges for the security and operations of the plant and its employees", LafargeHolcim said.

The plant, located in northern Syria some 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Aleppo, was finally evacuated in 2014.

Lafarge is suspected of sourcing oil locally to operate the factory in defiance of a 2012 EU ban on purchases of Syrian oil as part of a sanctions package targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The complaint, which was filed in late September 2016, follows a report in French daily Le Monde saying Lafarge entered into deals with armed groups in Syria, including the Islamic State group, to protect its business interests there, the sources said.

LafargeHolcim bought the Jalabiya cement works in 2007 and the plant went into operation in 2011.

 

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges