The world's largest cement company is set to make big profits if plans move forward for U.S. President Donald Trump's planned “great border wall.”
But first, the company must deal with the fallout of the recent admission that it helped to fund armed militant groups in Syria.
LafargeHolcim is set to benefit from the estimated US$1 trillion Trump will inject into infrastructure in his attempt to bring back U.S.-based construction jobs.
The French-Swiss company said Thursday that the U.S. is poised to become its most important market. Its CEO Eric Olsen said that LafargeHolcim hoped to play a part in the construction of Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Olson noted that the controversial wall is "an infrastructure project where we would participate.”
While the company said that it did not intend to be the main contractor, it did hope to work as a partner or supplier for the proposed wall. Estimates of the cost of the project range from US$10 to $22 billion.
At the same time that LafargeHolcim posted strong earnings, an internal investigation by the company revealed that one of its plants in Syria helped fund armed groups in the country so that the plant continue its operation.
In a statement Thursday, the company admitted that funds were distributed by staff to third parties who in turn made agreements with Syrian armed groups. These agreements were made before the factory northeast of Aleppo was evacuated in 2014 when Islamic State group forces conquered the area and seized the factory.
While the statement detailed how the Syrian branch of the company paid middlemen to guarantee the plant's operation, it did not specify which armed groups ultimately benefited from the payments.
The company said that their staff involved in the payments at the time aimed to act in the “best interests” of the company, but the internal investigation “revealed significant errors in judgment.”
LafargeHolcim previously rejected complaints filed by two human rights organizations that its operations from 2013-14 helped finance the Islamic State group and war crimes within Syria.