Italy court acquits two top executives
MILAN: 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 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal to sell 12 Agustawestland 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 Agustawestland 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, a 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 Agustawestland in January 2014 for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over the 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 362 crore 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.
NEW DELHI: The acquittal of former top executives of Finmeccanica and Agustawestland-Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini -- will have no bearing on the CBI case as it is based on an independent investigation with strong evidence, senior central agency officials said on Monday.
The comments came after Orsi, ex-president of defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, and Spagnolini, a for- mer CEO of the company’s helicopters subsidiary Agustawestland, were acquitted by an Italian court on Monday.
The officials said the same set of evidence had resulted in their conviction earlier.
The sources said the case in Italian courts is based on the evidence gathered by the Italian authorities whereas the CBI carried out a completely independent investigation in the matter. They said there is an option of appeal with Italian authorities even after the order of the Milan court of appeals.
“We have had a completely different probe. We have very strong case,” CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said here.
In Italy, criminal sentences are not usually considered definitive until the appeals process has been exhausted.
The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 by Italian authorities looking into alleged corruption into the sale of 12 helicopters to India for the use of VVIPS worth Rs 3600 crore. The two were accused of international corruption and false invoicing in relation to bribes exchanged for the contract with India.
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. Both appealed against the conviction, while the prosecution appealed against the acquittal on the corruption charge.