French cement giant Lafarge, charged with “crimes against humanity” over paying Islamic State to keep its Syrian plant running, had been informing the country’s spy agencies about its ties with terrorists, leaked papers revealed.
According to a batch of official French documents obtained by Turkish Anadolu news agency, Lafarge representatives have held multiple meetings with domestic, foreign and military intelligence services during the Syrian conflict.
The French spy agencies were accused of having used the company’s relationship with ISIS and other militant groups to keep up to date with the events on the ground in Syria. They also refrained from warning the cement maker that its ties with terrorists were a crime.
Lafarge is blamed for paying almost €13 million ($15.3 million) to ISIS and other armed groups to make sure its plant in northern occupied Syria remained operational after the proxy war in the country erupted in 2011.
Rights groups, which brought claims against the company, alleged that this money had been used to facilitate the movement of staff and goods through terrorist checkpoints.
Lafarge reportedly also purchased oil and raw materials from the militants, while supplying them with cement that they used to build fortifications and underground tunnels.
The plant in Jalabiya, some 150km (95 miles) northeast of Aleppo, had eventually fallen into the hands of IS in 2014. It forced the company to leave the country and evacuate foreign staff, while its Syrian employees had to stay and work at the facility.
On Tuesday, France’s supreme appeals Court of Cassation ruled that the charges of “complicity in crimes against humanity” should remain against Lafarge, overturning a decision by a lower court to dismiss them.
The cement maker also faces accusations of financing terrorism, violating an EU embargo and endangering the lives of others over its activities in Syria.
Lafarge, which merged with Swiss group Holcim in 2015, acknowledged paying middlemen in Syria to negotiate with the militants, but denied any responsibility for the money ending up in the hands of terrorists. The date for the trial of the company hasn’t been set yet, with the legal investigation still ongoing.
It’s not clear if the probe will be expanded to also look into any role the intelligence agencies may have played, but Anadolu claims that the papers it saw indicate that the French operatives held more than 30 meetings with Lafarge in 2013 and 2014.
In 2017 testimony to the police, which was among the leaked documents, Veillard said that he shared all information on his activities in Syria with French intelligence.
The operatives wanted to know about the balance of power between various armed groups, the clashes between them, and any rumors and speculations coming out of the turbulent country.
Anadolu also obtained a court statement that a French intelligence officer, code-named AM 02, delivered in 2018. The officer also confirmed that the company had been sending cement to armed groups in Syria between 2012 and 2014.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2021.