For Financing Terror Groups, Lafarge Slammed $778m Fine
Lafarge, a global building materials manufacturer headquartered in France, and Lafarge Cement Syria, S.A. (LCS), a Lafarge subsidiary headquartered in Syria, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging them with conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the al-Nusrah Front (ANF), both U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Immediately following the defendants’ guilty pleas yesterday, United States 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 the defendants’ scheme to pay ISIS and ANF in exchange for permission to operate a cement plant in Syria from August 2013 to October 2014, which enabled LCS to obtain approximately $70.30 million in revenue.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Lisa O. Monaco, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Michael Alfonso, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the guilty pleas and sentences.
“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 United States Attorney Peace. “Lafarge did this not merely in exchange for permission to operate its cement plant – which would have been bad enough – but also to leverage its relationship with ISIS for economic advantage, seeking ISIS’s assistance to hurt Lafarge’s competition in exchange for a cut of Lafarge’s sales. 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.
This unprecedented charge and resolution reflect the extraordinary crimes committed and demonstrates that corporations that take actions in contravention of our national security interests in violation of the law will be held to account.”
“The terrorism crimes to which Lafarge and its subsidiary have pleaded guilty are a vivid reminder of how corporate crime can intersect with national security,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “The defendants partnered with ISIS, one of the most brutal terrorist organizations the world has ever known, to enhance profits and increase market share—all while ISIS engaged in a notorious campaign of violence during the Syrian civil war. This case sends the clear message to all companies, but especially those operating in high-risk environments, to invest in robust compliance programs, pay vigilant attention to national security compliance risks, and conduct careful due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.”
“The defendants routed nearly six million dollars in illicit payments to two of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations—ISIS and al-Nusrah Front in Syria—at a time those groups were brutalizing innocent civilians in Syria and actively plotting to harm Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General Olsen. “There is simply no justification for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to designated terrorist organizations.”
“As today’s guilty plea demonstrates, Lafarge was motivated by greed and self-interest when it turned a blind eye