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French authorities open LafargeHolcim investigation

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World Cement,

French judicial authorities have opened an investigation into allegations that global cement major, LafargeHolcim, helped to finance terrorism in Syria, according to news reports. The scandal, which revolves around operations at a cement plant the company operated in Syria, has already led to the departure of its CEO Eric Olsen.

In March, the company admitted that it had uncovered dealings between plant personnel and certain armed groups – including some that were under sanction. An internal report since concluded “a number of measures taken to continue safe operations at the Syrian plant were unacceptable, and significant errors in judgment were made that contravened the applicable code of conduct.”

Responding to the news, LafargeHolcim told World Cement that it had not been contacted by the Paris prosecutor.

“The proceedings are conducted under a rule of confidentiality and neither Lafarge SA nor any of its affiliates have been made a party,” the company continued. “If approached, the group would cooperate with the prosecutor.”

Olsen is to step down on 15 July, after two years at the helm of the company. Jan Jenisch, CEO of Swiss chemicals company, Sika, will succeed Olsen, taking up the role from 16 October. Beat Hess, the company’s Chairman, will become interim CEO in the period between Olsen’s departure and Jenisch’s arrival.

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