Timeline of events



  • Schmidheiny becomes involved in “guiding” Italian Eternit Company.
  • Italian Eternit sells asbestos waste dust, asbestos-cement fragments and worn asbestos cloth conveyor belts to plant workers (through 1978).



  • Schmidheiny takes over operative control of Italian Eternit but has no official position.
  • Schmidheiny becomes Deputy CEO of Eternit parent company.



  • Schmidheiny takes over as CEO of Eternit asbestos company from his father.
  • Italian government workers’ compensation authority declares conditions at Casale Monferrato plant “unacceptable.”
  • Schmidheiny attends Neuss Conference in Germany where candid discussions about serious health hazards of asbestos are discussed among high-level managers.  Schmidheiny recorded as saying that some managers are “shocked” to hear about the dire health hazards and such shock must be avoided among the plant workers.
  • Schmidheiny appears in cognito as a “technical expert” at Casale Monferrato
  • Italian Health Inspectorate reports on loss of asbestos material during transportation and to the wind, highlighting possible damage to the community.
  • Naples criminal court begins proceedings against Italian Eternit executives, including CEO Giannitrapani for inadequate control of asbestos health hazards, causing disease in 170 people.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny continue asbestos operations in Apartheid-era South Africa.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny continue asbestos operations in Italy, Brazil, Lebanon and other countries.
  • The Lebanese plant remains unremediated and is causing an environmental and public health catastrophe to this day.



  • Eternit/Schmidheiny’s Italian managers convicted in criminal proceedings in Italy.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny hire consulting firm, Bellodi, to manage public relations and to protect the high-level executives and Schmidheiny personally.
  • Casale plant still does not provide laundry service for workers’ clothes, despite worker requests.
  • Eternit plant in Casale shuts down, leaving an environmental catastrophe and a future of 50 mesothelioma cases among retirees and residents every year.
  • Italian Eternit executives (including CEO Giannitrapani) questioned in connection with indictment for charges that include negligent homicide specifically in Casale Monferrato.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny sells Brazilian asbestos operations at full market value and walk away.  Asbestos operations are still ongoing in Brazil.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny sells South African asbestos operations at the end of Apartheid.
  • Eternit/Schmidheiny’s Italian managers convicted in criminal proceedings in Italy specifically for asbestos conditions at Casale Monferrato.
  • Schmidheiny’s foundation gives Yale money (and never did before).



  • Schmidheiny’s foundation gives Yale money.
  • Yale awards honorary doctorate of humane letters for “green” business practices.
  • Brazil gives Schmidheiny the Order of the Southern Cross for similar reasons.


  • Schmidheiny’s foundation gives Yale money (and never did again).
  • Schmidheiny and co-defendant convicted by Italian criminal court of negligence in 2,000+ deaths and of creating an environmental catastrophe.  Sentenced to 16 years in prison and ordered to pay about $100 million  in compensation to victims, organizations and municipalities.  No payments have yet been made.
  • Turin Court of Appeals affirms trial court verdict and adds two years to sentence, now 18 years.
  • Italian asbestos victims (AFEVA) ask Yale to review and revoke the 1996 honorary degree as inconsistent with the actual history of Schmidheiny’s operations in Italy and elsewhere.  Dozens of national and international public health experts officially join in AFEVA’s plea.  The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization joins in AFEVA’s plea.
  • Brazilian asbestos victims (ABREA) ask the government of Brazil to revoke the Order of Southern Cross.
  • Yale refuses to honestly grapple with the new facts or to give the Italian victims’ plea any reasonable hearing.
  • Local, national and international news media pick up the story in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Brazil.
  • Schmidheiny’s nominator for the honorary degree, William Reilly, admits to Yale Daily News TV that he was unaware of the complete history at the time of the award:  http://yaledailynews.com/blog/video/questions-of-honor/
  • Yale continues to refuse to honestly grapple with the new facts or to give the Italian victims’ plea any reasonable hearing.