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Ex-Finmeccanica CEO acquitted of graft charges in chopper deal

Press Trust of India  |  Milan 

An Italian appeals today acquitted Giuseppe Orsi, the former of defence and Finmeccanica, over charges of alleged bribes paid in exchange for a Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal to sell 12 helicopters to the Indian

Milan's third of appeal also acquitted Bruno Spagnolini, former of the company's AgustaWestland, who had also been handed a four-year jail term on the same charges, Italian agency reported.

was arrested in 2014 and resigned as executive of which was later renamed as Leonardo.

He was at the helm of when the deal was struck and was suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes.

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

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

The two were accused of international corruption and false invoicing in relation to bribes exchanged for the contract with

Both were cleared on charges of committing international corruption at the first-instance trial in 2014 but convicted of false invoicing and sentenced to two years in prison.

In Italy, criminal sentences are not usually considered definitive until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Both appealed against the conviction, while the prosecution appealed against the acquittal on the corruption charge.

In December 2016, the supreme of cassation ordered a repeat of the appeals trial.

had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary in January, 2014 for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the 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 allegations of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore after the arrest of Orsi and Spagnolini by Italian investigators in connection with the case.

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

In view of the corruption charges, India also barred and its group companies from participating in any new programme of the defence ministry.

The CBI in September last year charge sheeted former IAF S P Tyagi in a along with nine others for bribery in the case.

They were charge sheeted for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC in the case relating to alleged bribery of Rs 450 crore.

The CBI alleged there was an estimated loss of Euros 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euros 556.262 million.

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

First Published: Mon, January 08 2018. 20:21 IST