LaFarge pleads guilty to federal charges of supporting ISIS, al-Nusrah Front
Liz Montgomery reports for Porcupine Soup that French cement producer Lafarge has pleaded guilty in federal court to supporting Islamic terrorist groups. Lafarge maintains a plant in Ravena. The company is a global building materials manufacturer headquartered in France, and Lafarge Cement Syria, a Lafarge subsidiary, pleaded guilty on October 18, to providing support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, as well as the al-Nusrah Front, both U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Immediately following the guilty pleas, U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz, II sentenced the defendants to terms of probation and to pay financial penalties, including criminal fines of $90.78 million and forfeiture of $687 million, totaling $777.78 million. The charges arose out of Lafarge executives’ scheme to pay terrorists in exchange for permission to operate a cement plant in Syria from August 2013 to October 2014, which enabled Lafarge to gain approximately $70.30 million in revenue. “In the midst of a civil war, Lafarge made the unthinkable choice to put money into the hands of ISIS, one of the world’s most barbaric terrorist organizations, so that it could continue selling cement,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Today, Lafarge has admitted and taken responsibility for its staggering crime. Never before has a corporation been charged with providing material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations." Lafarge executives intentionally structured their agreements with ISIS to compensate the organization based on the amount of cement that LaFarge was able to sell ― effectively, a revenue-sharing agreement ― to incentivize the terrorist group to act in LaFarge’s economic interest, the U.S. Justice Department charged. Lafarge was purchased by Switzerland-based Holcim in 2015. The Ravena plant, which opened on State Route 9W in 1962 and still operates under the name Lafarge, describes Holcim as its “parent company.” The DOJ noted that former Lafarge executives concealed their conduct from Holcim and its auditors before and after Holcim acquired the company. Read more at porcupine soup [dot] com.