The firm has been accused of financing terrorist organization and of crimes against humanity in Syria. The judges have also charged the holding company with violating an embargo and endangering the lives of others, Reuters reported, citing judicial sources.
Lafarge management is suspected of paying up to 13 mln euros ($16 million) to Daesh militants and other armed groups in order to secure their business interests and keep the plant running after other European companies had left the war-torn country.
According to the reports, at the moment eight former and current executives of Lafarge, including former CEO Bruno Lafont were indicted.
Addressing the issue, the company announced it would appeal the opening of the court investigation.
"Whilst admitting that the system of supervision of its Syrian subsidiary did not allow the company to identify wrongdoings at the level of this subsidiary, which were the result of an unprecedented violation of internal regulations and compliance rules by a small group of individuals who have left the group, Lafarge SA will appeal against those charges which do not fairly represent the responsibilities of Lafarge SA," the company said in a statement.
Non-governmental organization European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which was one of the initiators of the criminal complaint against the company, welcomed the news of indictment.
"This is a worldwide premiere for a parent company to be indicted for complicity in crimes against humanity, marking a decisive step forward in the fight against the impunity of multinationals operating in armed conflict zones. It is also the first time that a multinational parent company in France is indicted for the activities of one of its subsidiaries abroad," the ECCHR said in a press release.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.