LafargeHolcim CEO to leave company amid controversy

By |  April 25, 2017

Eric Olsen

LafargeHolcim CEO Eric Olsen will resign later this year following an independent internal investigation into allegations concerning the Lafarge plant in Syria.

According to the United Kingdom’s Financial Times, Olsen’s departure makes him the highest-profile casualty of a controversy surrounding a Lafarge cement plant that kept running as Syria descended into civil war. Human rights groups have alleged the company helped finance terrorism, The Financial Times adds.

As part of the internal investigation and given Olsen’s current role as CEO at LafargeHolcim, the role and potential implication of Olsen has been a point of attention. Following an in-depth review, the board of directors concluded that Olsen was not responsible for, nor thought to be aware of, any wrongdoings that have been identified as part of its review.

Olsen will leave the company July 15, two years after taking up the CEO role and assuming responsibility for implementing the merger of Lafarge and Holcim.

“My decision is driven by my conviction that it will contribute to addressing strong tensions that have recently arisen around the Syria case,” Olsen says. “While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing I believe my departure will contribute to bringing back serenity to a company that has been exposed for months on this case.”

Earlier this year, LafargeHolcim communicated the initial findings of the independent internal investigation, commissioned by its board, into allegations concerning the Lafarge plant in Syria – specifically that company personnel had engaged in dealings with armed groups and sanctioned parties during 2013 until the plant closed in September 2014. Independent external counsel with experience in complex cross-border investigations carried out the internal investigation.

LafargeHolcim’s board has now concluded the independent investigation and confirmed that a number of measures taken to continue safe operations at the Syrian plant were unacceptable, and significant errors of judgment were made. The findings also confirm that, although local and regional management instigated these measures, some members of group management were aware of circumstances indicating that violations of Lafarge’s established standards of business conduct had taken place.

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