AgustaWestland case: Italy court gives top two executives clean chit

ANI | Updated: Jan 08, 2018 20:29 IST

Milan [Italy], Jan 8 (ANI): An Italian court on Monday acquitted two former Leonardo (earlier Finmeccanica) executives in the AgustaWestland case, wherein bribes were paid to secure the contract of supplying 12 VVIP choppers to India.

Giuseppe Orsi, former president of Leonardo, and the former head of the subsidiary AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, were acquitted for want of evidences.

The Italian media reported that The Court of Appeal of Milan acquitted the two ex-Leonardo managers since there was no evidence to support the corruption charges.

Orsi and Spagnolini were accused of bribing Indian officials and make false billings, in order to obtain the 556-million euro contract (Rs 3,700 crore) for around 12 helicopters in India.

The Central Bureau of Investigation sources have said the acquittals would have no bearing over the case in India.

The corruption allegedly took place between 2005 and 2010, according to the payment. On February 12, 2013, Orsi was arrested.

According to the allegations, Orsi and Spagnolini, who both succeeded in securing the position of managing director of AgustaWestland had bribed Sashi Tyagi, the then chief of staff of the Indian Air Force, to obtain the lowering of the flight quota, by making changes, as indicated in a tender notice.

With the changes made, as suggested by the two, the AgustaWestland would have taken the honours. The Indian government and the Revenue Agency were civil parties at that time in the process.

At first instance, Orsi and Spagnolini had been acquitted by the court of Busto Arsizio from the accusation of corruption and were condemned only for false invoices.

The judge, in an order, had said earlier: "The preliminary investigations claimed that the 'business philosophy' of bribes is a 'natural factor' of the group's business."

However, in April last year, the two Leonardo managers had been convicted of both the crimes: Orsi for four and a half years and Spagnolini for four years.

Italy's highest court, however, had ordered a new appeal process in December last year. The attorney general had recently asked for confirmation of convictions, regarding the dispute of false invoices. The judges, on the other hand, agreed with the defendants who had asked for an acquittal.

The motivations for the sentence would be announced within 90 days.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India, earlier on September 1 last year, had filed a charge sheet against retired Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, former Air Marshal JS Gujral and ten others in the case.

The chargesheet, filed before a special court, also named as accused Air Chief Marshal Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev Tyagi, lawyer Gautam Khaitan, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, alleged middleman Christian Michel, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi.

The investigation conducted and various documents collected so far revealed that AgustaWestland International Ltd, UK paid an amount of Euro 58 million as kickbacks through Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and IDS Sarl, Tunisia.

These companies further siphoned off the said money in the name of consultancy contracts to the Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius and others, which were further transferred to UHY Saxena, Dubai, Matrix Holdings Ltd, Dubai and others. (ANI)