Switzerland has released €1.3 billion (CHF1.5 billion) of frozen assets that will be used to clean up the disgraced Italian steel company Ilva. The funds were frozen in 2013 as the Italian authorities prosecuted the firm for severe environmental infringements.
The Federal Supreme Court announced on Friday that it has cleared the transfer of the funds, that once belonged to the Riva family, to the Italian authorities. This reversed a 2015 decision by the criminal court in Bellinzona to keep the UBS account frozen.
The Ilva steelworks, located in Taranto, southern Italy, was linked by prosecutors to 400 premature deaths through toxic emissions. The probe also covered several individuals, including politicians and members of the Riva family, who owned the firm.
The family was accused of having saved €1.3 billion by delaying essential refurbishments that would have made the plant safe. In a deal with the Italian authorities, the funds have been placed in a trust fund designed to carry out those improvements at factories.
In 2013, the company was on the brink of collapse and had to be partly nationalized to save it from going under a year later.
This summer, the company was taken over by Italian firm Marcegaglia and ArcelorMittel, the world’s largest steel producer. Ilva is Europe’s biggest steel plant by output capacity.