Police search Lafarge in Paris as part of Syria investigation

FILE PHOTO - The logo of LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement maker, is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

PARIS (Reuters) - LafargeHolcim LHN.SLHN.PA said on Tuesday that French police had searched its Paris offices as part of an ongoing inquiry into the construction company's Syrian business.

“LafargeHolcim confirms that the French police visited our premises in Paris. LafargeHolcim is fully cooperating with the authorities, but cannot comment further as this is an ongoing investigation,” said a company spokeswoman.

Separately, Belgian holding company GBL GBLB.BR, which owns a 9.4 percent stake in LafargeHolcim, said its offices were also searched in connection with the Syria probe.

GBL said it would fully cooperate with the investigation. LafargeHolcim said its Brussels offices were not raided.

Earlier this year, France launched a judicial inquiry into the Syrian activities of the global cement maker, with the probe investigating the possible “financing of terrorist enterprise”.

In April, LafargeHolcim CEO Eric Olsen quit after the company admitted it had paid armed groups to keep a factory operating in war-ravaged Syria.

The opening of the initial judicial inquiry does not necessarily mean that any person or the company will be brought to trial.

(This version of the story corrects third paragraph to read “...Belgian holding company GBL, which owns a 9.4 percent stake in LafargeHolcim, said its offices were also searched...” instead of “...Police in Belgium also carried out a raid at the company’s offices in Brussels which was linked to the searches in France, a judicial source said...” after LafargeHolcim and the judicial source said there was no raid on the company’s own offices in Belgium. Amends fourth paragraph saying company had no immediate comment.)

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Michael Shields