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Two ex-Finmeccanica execs acquitted by Italian court in AgustaWestland case

Orsi was at the helm of AugustaWestland when the deal was struck and he is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes

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Vvip Chopper Scam

Press Trust of India  |  Milan 

British AgustaWestland AW101 'Merlin' HC3A in June 2012 (Source: Wikipedia, Cpl Phil Major ABIPP RAF)
British AgustaWestland AW101 'Merlin' HC3A in June 2012 (Source: Wikipedia, Cpl Phil Major ABIPP RAF)

An Italian court on Monday acquitted Giuseppe Orsi, the former president of defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, of charges related to alleged bribes paid in exchange for a Rs 36 billion VVIP chopper deal to sell 12 AugustaWestland helicopters to India.

Orsi was arrested in 2014 and resigned as chief executive of the aerospace group which was later renamed as Leonardo.

Orsi was at the helm of AugustaWestland when the deal was struck and he is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes.

He had been sentenced to four-a-half-years years in jail for false accounting and corruption.

Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of the company's helicopters subsidiary AgustaWestland, who had also been handed a four- year jail term on the same charges, was also cleared, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 into the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India.

India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AugustaWestland in January, 2014 for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks paid by the firm for securing the deal.

India's defence ministry had ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 3.62 billion after the arrest of Orsi and Spagnolini by Italian investigators in connection with the case.

In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for VVIP use.

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First Published: Tue, January 09 2018. 02:15 IST
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