Cement giant Lafarge fined $778 mn for working with ISIL in Syria

French cement giant Lafarge SA was slapped with a $778 million fine Tuesday for making millions in payments to the ISIL and another jihadist group to build its business in Syria.

The US Justice Department said the company and its Syrian subsidiary actively sought the ISIL group's help to squeeze out competitors when the radical Islamists controlled large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2013-2014, operating an effective "revenue sharing agreement" with them.

It also paid access and protection money to associates of ISIL and the similarly radical Al-Nusrah Front, ultimately earning some $70 million in revenues during the period, with a Lafarge executive saying the cooperation was "to share the cake."

Lafarge agreed to the fine and to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to US-designated foreign terrorist organizations, the first time a corporation has faced the charge.

US officials said Lafarge, now owned by Swiss giant Holcim Group, made itself a handmaiden to terror for profits.

"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," US prosecutor Breon Peace said, using another acronym for ISIL.

"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," Peace said.

In a statement, Lafarge said the company and its defunct subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria "have accepted responsibility for the actions of the individual executives involved."

"We deeply regret...

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