Setback to ministry, CBI as ex-Finmeccanica CEO set free of graft charges.
New Delhi: In an apparent setback to the Indian defence ministry and the CBI, an Italian court on Monday acquitted Giuseppe Orsi, the former president of defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of the fim’s helicopters subsidiary AgustaWe-stland, of charges related to alleged bribes paid in exchange for a Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal to sell 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
India’s defence ministry had ordered a CBI probe into the 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.
Under India’s defence procurement rules, the in-tegrity pact prohibits paying or accepting bribes.
The company is under a cloud in India after char-ges that it had allegedly roped in the expert experience of former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi through a web of middlemen and a murky trail of bribe money to help influence big defence contracts. Orsi, who was at the helm of AgustaWestland when the deal was struck, was arrested in 2014 and resigned as chief executive of the aerospace group which was later renamed as Leonardo.
Both Orsi and Spagnolini had been sentenced to four-a-half-years years in jail for false accounting and corruption.
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 Finmeccan-ica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland 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.