French firm admits Islamic State group payments in US court

NEW YORK (AP) — French cement company Lafarge pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying millions of dollars to the Islamic State group so that a plant in Syria could remain open, a case that the Justice Department described as the first of its kind.
The company agreed to pay criminal fines of roughly $91 million and forfeit an additional $687 million for a total penalty of roughly $778 million.
Prosecutors accused the company of turning a blind eye to the conduct of the militant group, paying to it at a time when it was involved in torturing kidnapped Westerners.
“The defendants routed nearly six million dollars in illicit payments to two of the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations — ISIS and al-Nusrah Front in Syria — at a time those groups were brutalizing innocent civilians in Syria and actively plotting to harm Americans,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the Justice Department's top national security official, said in a statement.
“There is simply no justification for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to designated terrorist organization,” he added.
The charges were announced by federal prosecutors in New York City and by senior Justice Department leaders from Washington.
The allegations involve conduct that was earlier investigated by authorities in France.
The Islamic State group is abbreviated as IS and has been referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.