French cement company Lafarge SA is paying a financial penalty of nearly $778 million and pleading guilty to a US federal count of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and another terrorist organization.
It is an unprecedented corporate prosecution under the material support of terrorism law, according to the US Justice Department.
The company pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday.
“Lafarge SA and LCS have accepted responsibility for the actions of the individual executives involved, whose behavior was in flagrant violation of Lafarge’s Code of Conduct. We deeply regret that this conduct occurred and have worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve this matter,” the company said in a statement.
The company’s dealings with the terrorist group were the subject of an internal investigation several years ago. At the conclusion of that probe, the corporation said that employees of a legacy company were paying off intermediaries without regard to the identity of the groups involved in order to keep operations running and the plant safe as violence escalated in the region.
“[T]he combination of the war zone chaos and the ‘can-do’ approach to maintain operations in these circumstances may have caused those involved to seriously misjudge the situation and to neglect to focus sufficiently on the legal and reputational implications of their conduct,” Lafarge Holcim, as the company is now known, said in a public statement in 2017.
Magali Anderson, a top executive at Lafarge, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company.
This story has been updated with additional details.