Finmeccanica's ex-boss jailed for graft in Indian VVIP chopper deal
Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica's former chief Giuseppe Orsi has been sentenced by the Milan appeals court to 4.5 years in jail for false accounting and corruption in the sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India for over Rs 3,600 crore.
Milan/New Delhi: Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica's former chief Giuseppe Orsi has been sentenced by the Milan appeals court to 4.5 years in jail for false accounting and corruption in the sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India for over Rs 3,600 crore.
In the ruling, which overtured a previous court order of 2014 that had given Orsi reprieve in connection with the corruption angle, former CEO of Finmeccanica's helicopter subsidiary AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, was also handed a four-year prison term by the court yesterday.
The court found both guilty of corruption in relation to the sale of 12 helicopters to the Indian government and sentenced Orsi to a jail term of four and a half years, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Prosecutors had requested jail terms of six years and five years for Orsi and Spagnolini, respectively, it said.
The ruling has come as a severe blow to the Italian company which had just managed to leave the corruption saga behind that marred its image across the world.
Though Finmeccanica has refused to say anything on the ruling saying it pertained to former executives, top company officials told PTI that the firm "has changed completely".
"The company has undergone deep changes and it has changed completely from the time when the allegations came up first. Finmeccanica is a different company now," an official said. "Finmeccanica since then has changed its top management and its organisation."
The official added that Italian judicial system is made of three appeals and the trial is against two former executives.
The lawyers of both the accused have said that they will go in for an appeal.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are still probing the case in India in which former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and his cousins are alleged to be the beneficiaries.
The ED has booked Tyagi, his family members, European nationals - Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, four firms - Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland and Chandigarh- based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, few other firms and unknown persons as per CBI's criminal complaint.
The ED had attached five expensive flats in and around New Delhi in the name of cousins of Tyagi in connection with its money laundering probe.
The agency, in its order issued against the Tyagi brothers - Sanjeev, Sandeep and Rajeev - had said late last year that its investigations found that the "proceeds of crime" of this deal were allegedly used by them in the acquisition of these properties which have now been seized under law.
Both Orsi and Spagnolini 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.
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.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
In view of the corruption charges, India has also barred Finmeccanica and its group companies from participating in any new programme of the defence ministry.