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Italian court clears former Leonardo bosses in India corruption case

Reuters  |  MILAN 

By Parodi

MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian appeals on Monday acquitted two former executives in a bribery case related to a large 2010 helicopter contract with the Indian

Giuseppe Orsi, former of the Italian group previously known as Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former head of its helicopter unit AgustaWestland, were both cleared of charges, with the citing a lack of sufficient proof.

In December 2016 Italy's highest had ordered a retrial of the case after the former executives of the Rome-based group had been found guilty on charges related to a 560 million euro ($672 million) contract to supply a dozen helicopters to

After Monday's acquittal Orsi's lawyer, Ennio Amodio, said the decision closed a case "which should have been clear to investigators (from the start)", adding that the found no evidence of corruption, of the passage of money or that Indian officials interfered with the tender.

Orsi had received a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence after the previous had overturned the verdict of a lower court, with Spagnolini sentenced to a four-year jail term.

"With all the damage that was caused to the company, the damage caused to me is minor," Spagnolini told reporters after Monday's decision.

The case was a big political issue in and when it opened in 2012 and severely tarnished the company's reputation at a time when had established itself as one the world's biggest arms buyers.

The Italian group has always said the case was against the individuals rather than the company and the case against was dropped by prosecutors in July 2014.

AgustaWestland, which was treated separately, agreed on a 7.5 million euro settlement with the a month later.

Mauro Moretti, Leonardo's from March 2014 to May last year, worked to improve the company's reputation during his time at the helm and streamlined the organisation to increase transparency.

A separate investigation into suspected and money laundering is still open in and involves individuals alleged to have worked as intermediaries in the deal.

cancelled the helicopter contract in 2013 after Orsi was arrested, but opposed India's decision and the contract remains suspended and the subject of international arbitration in

Shares in were up 2.7 percent at 1351 GMT.

($1 = 0.8340 euros)

(Reporting by Parodi; Writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by David Goodman)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 08 2018. 19:39 IST