'Chopper verdict upholds honour of ex-IAF chief'

After a court in Italy on Thursday found him not guilty of corruption in the 2010 deal to supply India with AgustaWestland helicopters, Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief executive of Italian firm Finmeccanica said the judgement upheld the honour of India's ex-air chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, falsely accused of wrongdoing.

IANS| Last Updated: Oct 10, 2014, 13:43 PM IST

New Delhi: After a court in Italy on Thursday found him not guilty of corruption in the 2010 deal to supply India with AgustaWestland helicopters, Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief executive of Italian firm Finmeccanica said the judgement upheld the honour of India's ex-air chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, falsely accused of wrongdoing.

"This judgement is also important because gives Marshal Tyagi back his honour after the accusation of having done something that he really had not done," Orsi said in a statement sent to a news agency by his lawyers. 

Tyagi was not charged in the Italian case, heard in the court of Busto Arsizio and has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the EUR 560 million (Rs 3,600 crore) contract for 12 helicopters for VVIP use.

"The peremptoriness of the acquittal makes the allegations meaningless. No amount of money was paid to an Indian public official, nor did the Swiss intermediary try to alter the tender," said Orsi's advocate, Ennio Amodio. 

Orsi, who was then the CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland, was accused of paying bribes to Indian officials to win the contract. 

An agent of AgustaWestland, who agreed to become a witness for the prosecution, testified that he had met with Tyagi, who then changed the tender requirements to favour AgustaWestland.

The Italian judge said in the verdict that while prosecutors had proven that fake invoices had been issued, there was no corruption.

Telling reporters after the verdict that he hoped India would reconsider its decision to cancel the helicopter order, Orsi said: “This was an internal Italian issue that had nothing to do with India. I hope that the good relations between Italy and India will be restored.”

Three helicopters had been delivered when the deal was cancelled.

Reacting to the verdict, Tyagi told reporters here: “I am happy man, I always knew that I had done nothing wrong. It’s a big morale booster for the Indian Air Force, which had done its job perfectly." 

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the deal, on Thursday said the Italian court's judgement did not necessarily mean the agency would drop its investigation of Tyagi, and that it was waiting to peruse the full judgement.