Swiss Billionaire Sentenced for Hundreds of Asbestos-Related Deaths in Italy

cement truck driving on the roadStephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss billionaire, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for aggravated manslaughter after his company exposed hundreds of people to asbestos.

Schmidheiny was a main shareholder in the cement production company Eternit Italia. He was found guilty of causing the deaths of 392 people in Casale Monferrato, the town that housed six Eternit Italia factories until 1986.

60 of the victims were factory workers; the rest of the victims were living in the town or surrounding area.

Eternit’s factories used asbestos to strengthen cement during the 1970s and 1980s.

In addition, judges ordered him to pay about $53 million USD in damages to Casale Monferrato’s local authority, $32 million USD to the Italian state, and about $542 million USD to a local association for relatives of victims of asbestos.

Schmidheiny, rather than the company, was found both criminally and civilly liable, because in Italy, the owner of a company is responsible in the event of workplace accidents or deaths.