The Department of Justice (DOJ) fined a global manufacturer $777.78 million Tuesday morning after they pled guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Lafarge S.A. and subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) pleaded guilty to funding ISIS and the al-Nusrah Front (ANF) in a scheme that allowed LCS to own and operate a cement plant in Syria from 2013 to 2014, the DOJ release reported.
The cement plant, constructed in the Jalabiyeh region of Northern Syria, ran under the protection of armed factions following the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and allowed LCS to obtain resource advantages over its competitors in the Syrian cement market.
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“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,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said Monday in regard to the press release.
Between 2013 and 2014, Lafarge and LCS paid approximately $5.92 million in “donations” and payments to ISIS-backed suppliers and $1.11 million to the third-party ambassadors tasked with negotiating payments between 2013 and 2014 on the companies behalf, the DOJ reported. After LCS abandoned the cement plant, ISIS took control implying “further conspiracy” and yielded an estimated additional $3.21 million in revenue.
During cooperation with both terrorist organizations, Lafarge and LCS profited approximately $70.3 million, the DOJ reported. Revenue for all parties of the scheme is estimated at around $80.54 million.
“This guilty plea is a result of extraordinary collaboration among the FBI, the Department of Justice, and our international partners. The result demonstrates to anyone who would seek to contribute to ISIS’s terrorist activities, that the FBI will relentlessly pursue, and hold them accountable, regardless of where, or how, they attempt to hide,” FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said.
Emails retrieved from Lafarge executives from 2010 to 2014 pointed to their motives being primarily financial with company executives purchasing raw materials for cement production from ISIS-backed cement suppliers, the DOJ reported. Executives also paid “donations” to armed groups so employees could travel through hostile groups and roads.
Eventually, Lafarge agreed to pay a “tax” to ISIS based on the amount of cement being sold, the DOJ reported.
“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. There is simply no justification for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to designated terrorist organizations,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said.