_ap_ufes{"success":true,"siteUrl":"friableasbestos.com","urls":{"Home":"http://friableasbestos.com","Category":"http://friableasbestos.com/category/current-asbestos-news/","Archive":"http://friableasbestos.com/2015/04/","Post":"http://friableasbestos.com/asbestos-firms-ready-to-fight-silvers-slanted-legal-system/","Page":"http://friableasbestos.com/effect-asbestos-mesothelioma/","Nav_menu_item":"http://friableasbestos.com/69/"}}_ap_ufee

January 17, 2018

Swiss billionaire Schmidheiny Wins Asbestos Court Battle

Billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny was acquitted this week of complicity in 3,000 deaths related to the use of asbestos in factories formerly part of his chemicals empire, Eternit. Italy’s supreme court overturned a ruling which sentenced the Swiss entrepreneur to 18 years in prison stating the evidence in the case was out of date.

Schmidheiny had been fighting the case which wound its way through the Italian court system for years. In 2012, he was jailed in absentia for 16 years, a sentence that was raised by an appeals court to 18 years in 2013. Throughout the case, Schmidheiny who avoids the limelight, denied the charges stating once the perils of asbestos were known, he sold out of the business and was not running the factory during the period claimed in the deaths.

bac4220ceab8f57ff9c9be926eeb8092

“My group was heading toward bankruptcy as a consequence of the combined effects of asbestos-related problems and a major slump in construction markets. Thus I built my group virtually from scratch,” he wrote to Forbes in 2009 for a feature story.

Shmidheiny inherited the Eternit Group when he was 37 as the fourth generation of a Swiss industrial dynasty. Before he took full control, he had worked around the globe for his family’s Eternit Group, which manufactured a line of construction products that had begun in 1903 with asbestos-reinforced cement. At age 29, after toying with the idea to become a missionary, studying law and travelling abroad, he was called back to headquarters. That is when he began to face the company’s asbestos concerns. Schmidheiny had filters installed at Eternit factories to reduce dust in the air, beefed up employee training and began to move the company away from asbestos-based products. He notes that he himself was exposed to the mineral while working in his early 20s hauling sacks as a shift foreman at Eternit in Brazil. When Schmidheiny took full control of the company, he sold off most asbestos operations and diversified into other ventures, including the Latin American investment holding company, GrupoNueva, and the then ailing watch firm Swatch. (He sold off his Swatch shares after it recovered.)

In 2003 Schmidheiny focused more on his burgeoning philanthropic efforts. He placed $1 billion in business assets, including GrupoNueva, into a charitable trust, which its profits annually to help entrepreneurs across both Central and South America. In a 2012 interview with Forbes he said, “In keeping with the family tradition, my charitable activities first began in Switzerland where we supported – and continue to support – a broad range of activities e.g. in the field of conservation of the cultural heritage, protecting women’s and children’s rights, protection of the environment, to name just a few. In 1992 I had an experience as the founder of the Business Council for Sustainable Development around the UN conference of Rio that profoundly changed my outlook on life. Thus, I greatly expanded my philanthropic endeavors and put a major emphasis on promoting sustainable forms of development in Latin America.”

This article:  

Swiss billionaire Schmidheiny Wins Asbestos Court Battle

Swiss billionaire gets 18 years jail for Italian asbestos deaths

MILAN (Reuters) – A billionaire Swiss industrialist convicted for his part in Italy‘s biggest asbestos scandal had his jail sentence lengthened to 18 years on Monday, in a ruling campaigners said would set a precedent for work-safety lawsuits.

Stephan Schmidheiny, found guilty of negligence that led to more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths, was also ordered to pay millions of euros in damages to local authorities, victims and their families by an appeals court in Turin.

The former owner of Swiss building material maker Eternit was found guilty in February last year and originally sentenced to 16 years in prison and ordered to pay other damages.

He was not immediately sent to jail – prison sentences in Italy are often not enforced until appeals processes, which can take years, are exhausted

The 65-year-old was not in court when the appeals judges rejected his appeal against the sentence and extended it on Monday.

A spokesman based in Zurich said the industrialist would now take his case to Italy‘s top appeals court and dismissed the ruling as “scandalous” and “absurd”.

The Turin court also dropped charges against Belgian Eternit shareholder and former company executive Jean Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne, who died on May 21 aged 91.

A WORLD WITHOUT ASBESTOS

Relatives of the victims and hundreds of others filled the courthouse, some holding banners reading: “Eternit: Justice!”

“This verdict encourages the battle by victims and their families for a world without asbestos and without that thirst for profits that sacrifice human lives,” victims’ association Osservatorio Nazionale Amianto said.

Prosecutors had said Schmidheiny intentionally failed to install measures to prevent workers’ health being affected by asbestos at Eternit’s Italian plants, which closed in 1986.

More than 6,000 people – including former employees and residents of the four towns where the plants were located – are seeking damages in the case.

Compensation awarded by the court included 20 million euros to the Piedmont region and 31 million euros to the Casale Monferrato townhall where Eternit had its main Italian plant.

Prosecutors said the lack of safety measures led to the deaths of more than 2,000 people, mostly from cancer triggered by contact with asbestos, and thousands of other cases of chronic pulmonary disease, tumors and other illnesses over the past four decades.

They affected workers and residents of Casale Monferrato and Cavagnolo, two hill towns near Turin; the village of Rubiera in northern Italy; and the seaside town of Bagnoli, outside Naples.

Asbestos fibers became popular from the late 19th century onwards as a way to reinforce cement, often for roofing and cladding, as well as adding sound absorption and heat resistance.

Asbestos is now banned from building materials in much of the West, but is still being used as insulation in developing countries. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause lung inflammation and cancer, and symptoms do not tend to appear for many years.

(Reporting By Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

View original – 

Swiss billionaire gets 18 years jail for Italian asbestos deaths