The company at the centre of what has been described as the biggest environmental crime prosecution in the history of the United States has been found not guilty. The trail of W.R. Grace has ended with the company being found not guilty in relation to asbestos contamination of the town of Libby in Montana.

The federal jury found the company not guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and violation of the Clean Air Act. All charges were also thrown out against three former executives of the company. The trial has been ongoing for eleven weeks, and shares in Grace shot up after the verdict was announced.

David Bernick, a lawyer for W.R. Grace, stated: “The legacy of what happened in Libby doesn’t go away, but the notion that the defendants engaged in criminal conduct was not grounded in fact – it was very politically motivated.”

It had been claimed by prosecutors that the company, and a number of its executives, had conspired to expose residents of the town of Libby to asbestos containing vermiculite for many year. However, W.R Grace denied this and spent tens of millions of dollars defending itself.

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