June 13, 2017 / 7:10 AM / 2 years ago

France starts inquiry into LafargeHolcim's Syria activities: source

FILE PHOTO: The logo of LafargeHolcim is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France has launched a judicial inquiry into the Syrian activities of cement and construction group LafargeHolcim, a judicial source said on Tuesday, investigating the “financing of terrorist enterprise” and endangering lives.

In April, LafargeHolcim said its chief executive Eric Olsen was leaving after the company admitted it had paid armed groups to keep a factory operating in war-ravaged Syria.

An independent internal inquiry found protection payments made to intermediaries to keep open the Jalabiya plant in northern Syria were not in line with its policies.

The source said one judge dealing with anti-terrorism matters and two financial judges were handling the matter.

LafargeHolcim said on Tuesday it had not been contacted by the French prosecutor’s office, but would cooperate with judicial authorities if it was requested to do so.

“Judicial procedures are conducted in a confidential manner and neither Lafarge nor any of its affiliates have been made a party to any of them,” a company spokeswoman said.

The judicial inquiry is into allegations made about payments that were made to banned groups but is not into individuals, although this could change in the future, the source said.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and John Revill; Editing by Jean-Michel Belot/Mark Potter/Alexander Smith

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