How Lafarge Funded ISIS With $15.3m; Loses Legal Battle To Upturn Verdict of “Crimes Against Humanity”

Larfarge, a multinational French industrial company, operating in Nigeria and other countries has been accused of funding Islamic State (IS), a globally known terrorist organization to the tune of $15.3million. 

The company, in its efforts at coming clean has as well lost a legal battle that tended towards upturning a judgment that found them culpable of crimes against humanity in war-torn Syria, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

A French High Court set aside the decision of a lower court that previously dismissed charges against the Lafarge’s involvement in funding a terrorist organization in its bid to retain a cement plant in Northern Syria, an act the top court upheld as crime against humanity.

The Court of Cassation has thus reversed the verdict which tended to exonerate Lafarge for the alleged crime of paying $15.3million at the wake of the Syrian civil devastating war.

Lafarge has previously admitted that its operation in Syrian paid middlemen to negotiate with armed groups.  The payment was to allow its staff and goods to be moved freely within the war zone.

The multinational company however denied having a hand in money getting to terrorists and has made concerted efforts to have the suit nullified.

Two years ago, the Paris Court of Appeal dismissed the crimes against humanity charge in a decision that claimed the payments were intended to aid IS’s macabre agenda of executions and torture.

But the ruling ordered the prosecution of Lafarge for three other charges: endangering other people’s lives, funding terrorism and flouting an EU embargo.

Lafarge Cement Syria’s staff, numbering 11 with support from NGOs, contested the Court of Cassation judgement.

“One can be complicit in crimes against humanity even if one doesn’t have the intention of being associated with the crimes committed,” France’s apex bank said on Tuesday.

“Knowingly paying several million dollars to an organisation whose sole purpose was exclusively criminal suffices to constitute complicity, regardless of whether the party concerned was acting to pursue a commercial activity.”

According to judges, several acts of complicity would end up unpunished if courts handled interpretation with levity.

It also upheld the charge involving financing terrorism that Lafarge had striven hard to have dismissed.

The judgement does not imply Lafarge will automatic have a case to answer on the weightiest allegations against a French company regarding its activities in a foreign nation in recent years.

Rather, the court referred the case back to magistrates to review the charge of complicity.

Bruno Laffont, Lafarge’s erstwhile CEO and eight executives, have also been charged with financing a terrorist group and/or endangering the lives of others.

Lafarge is not the first multinational to be charged for complicity in crimes against humanity for its actions in a nation in which people experienced terrible human rights abuses. However, cases of that nature are hardly brought to trial.

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