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LafargeHolcim CEO resigns after admitting company paid armed Syria groups

[JURIST] Eric Olsen [corporate profile], CEO of cement manufacturer LafargeHolcim [corporate website], announced on Monday that he will resign following the discovery that LafargeHolcim had paid armed groups in Syria to prevent a factory from closing. French prosecutors are investigating [Reuters report] the payments, and two human rights groups filed a complaint in a French court against the corporation, alleging that it may have been "complicit in financing Islamic State and in war crimes." Olsen said in his resignation [text], "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." Beat Hess, current Chairman of the Board, will take over Olsen's responsibilities until a new CEO is hired.

In February France approved [JURIST report] a law to hold parent corporations liable for subsidiary human rights violations. The law was inspired by the 2013 garment factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed over 1,000 people [JURIST report]. The French companies using the factory blamed their suppliers and were not liable for the safety violations under French law at the time. Last April Bangladeshi workers gathered [JURIST report] on the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster to demand justice for the incident. In July a Bangladesh court officially indicted [JURIST report] 41 people with murder stemming from the 2013 garment factory collapse after finding that the staff allegedly forced workers to stay in the unstable establishment despite concerns that the structure was visibly cracking.

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