Cement-maker Lafarge investigated for violating Syria sanctions
France's Ministry of Economy and Finance says Lafarge operated a plant in northern Syria until 2014, two years after the EU imposed sanctions
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PARIS—French authorities have launched an investigation of cement company Lafarge, which is suspected of illegal activities in Syria after the European Union imposed sanctions against the country in 2012.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Thursday the probe was opened in October after the French Ministry of Economy and Finance filed a complaint against Lafarge, a French company that operated a plant in northern Syria until 2014.
The ministry confirmed the complaint without elaborating.
The company told The Associated Press it is “in the process of establishing the facts concerning our activities in Syria.” It said it would co-operate with the Paris prosecutor and hand over any information requested.
In November, French NGO Sherpa also filed a complaint in Paris against Lafarge for allegedly “financing terrorism.” The complaint accused the company of maintaining commercial relations with the Islamic State group in Syria in 2013-2014 so it could continue operating the plant.
Sherpa claimed Lafarge and its local subsidiary made “arrangements” with IS to obtain passes buffered by the jihadist group and to buy oil and other raw materials needed to produce cement in IS-controlled areas of Syria.
At the time, Lafarge denied “financing so-called terrorist groups.” The company said it had launched a “thorough and independent investigation” into the allegations to determine whether its internal code of conduct had been properly followed and if procedures needed to be adapted. It said it would implement “any remediation measures required.”
Lafarge merged with Swiss company Holcim to create LafargeHolcim, the world’s largest cement maker, in 2015.