Lafarge used fake consulting contract to buy fuel from Daesh

15 December 2017

An ex-LafargeHolcim CEO has been charged as part of a probe into indirect funding of extremist militant factions in Syria. In order to keep its operation in Syria running while the territory was held by Daesh, group Lafarge’s Syrian subsidiary is alleged to have used a fake consulting contract to cover the purchase of fuel from the international terrorist outfit.

Former LafargeHolcim Chief Executive Eric Olsen has been charged as a continuing probe into the alleged indirect financing of militant groups in Syria is carried out, according to judicial sources. Those sources also confirmed that Olsen, who became CEO in 2015 when French multinational Lafarge merged with the Swiss group Holcim, had himself been indicted for “financing of a terrorist organisation” and “endangering the lives of others.”

Lafarge more generally stands accused of paying Daesh for fuel, alongside other militant groups in Syria, through a middleman so that the company’s factory in the northern city of Jalabiya would not have to cease production amid the continued civil war. Lafarge’s Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria is said to have used multiple avenues in order to make these purchases.Lafarge used fake consulting contract to buy fuel from DaeshAccording to a report in April 2017, commissioned by LafargeHolcim and seen by the French Press Association (AFP), the firm had paid out some €4.7 million between July 2012 and September 2014 directly, but is also suspected of using fake consulting contracts to buy fuel from Daesh, after the group gained control of most of Syria’s strategic oil reserves in June 2013. Despite the raging war, this enabled Lafarge to remain in Syria for two years, following the exit of most French companies while Daesh made major territorial gains.

On top of the indirect financing of a war, investigators are now attempting to conclude whether Lafarge failed to ensure the security of its Syrian staff. The employees were expected to stay behind after their management had fled the conflict in the summer of 2012. The probe also aims to ascertain the extent to which the company’s top managers were aware of the alleged deals with militants.

Three former officials at the Jalabiya factory were charged in the case before Olsen, who was also placed under judicial supervision. Olsen had previously been taken in for questioning over the allegations, alongside fellow ex-CEO, Bruno Lafont, and past Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Christian Herrault – both of whom are still being detained.

Olsen served as head of human resources and later deputy managing director at Lafarge at the time of the alleged payments, before becoming chief executive of the merged group. He left LafargeHolcim two years later.

The company has so far declined to issue a comment on the ongoing investigation.

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Accenture to work alongside WPP-owned agency on Shell CRM contract

27 November 2018

As the firm vies for a share of the design and marketing industry, Accenture Interactive has won a preferred supplier status on Shell's customer relationship management (CRM) roster. The firm will work closely alongside the brand's lead digital agency Wunderman to deploy campaigns for the international energy giant.

Accenture Interactive has grown substantially in the past year, and is presently ranked as the world’s largest digital agency by the Ad Age Agency Report. While this is something hotly disputed by design market incumbents such as WPP, further acquisitions in 2018, coupled with a growing client portfolio, have led the digital design wing of the international consultancy to increasingly eat into the market share of long-standing advertising companies.

Now, a new deal has made for some interesting bed-fellows, as Accenture Interactive works alongside WPP-owned agency Wunderman with a remit to provide "overall global strategic planning and creative direction for Shell’s CRM programmes globally." According to reports first circulated by news site The Drum, Accenture was tapped by oil and energy firm Shell to boost its marketing efforts around eight months ago, but the appointment was kept under lock and key until now.

Accenture to work alongside WPP-owned agency on Shell CRM contract

While Wunderman remains Shell's lead digital agency, having led the CRM account since 2013 when its loyalty budget was estimated to be worth £30 million. Accenture's customer experience arm will meanwhile work to support the deployment of CRM campaigns across Shell’s digital channels. The work is understood to be focused on boosting "one-to-one customer relationships" using Adobe software, as a managed service.

The news comes at the end of 12 months of change for Shell's agency roster for its retail and lubricants arms. The company has been working to reposition itself in a market moving away from heavy dependence on fossil fuels. This has seen the British-Dutch hybrid energy giant move toward renewables and backing electric travel schemes. As it enters into these new markets, CRM – a strategy for managing an organisation's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers – has become increasingly important.

Regarding the change in its CRM set-up, Shell told The Drum it is looking to "drive deeper and more meaningful connections with customers across every touch point." The Accenture Interactive role comes with a brief including building a robust digital network for global and local campaigns.

Remarking on this remit, Joy Bhattacharya, Accenture Interactive lead for UK and Ireland, said that through "the consolidation of systems and services, we aim to drive efficiencies and scale personalised marketing campaigns, creating greater experiences for Shell customers.”