An Italian court on Thursday handed out a two-year jail term to former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and former AgustaWestland boss Bruno Spagnolini for falsifying invoices, but cleared them of the more serious corruption charges in the Rs 3,737-crore VVIP chopper deal.
Orsi and Spagnolini were facing trial in connection with the 2010 contract for supplying 12 VVIP AgustaWestland choppers to the Indian Air Force. India had scrapped the contract in January amid allegations that Euro 51 million was paid to middlemen in bribes and later imposed a partial ban on Finmeccanica, which owns UK-based AgustaWestland.
A Reuters report from Italy said the two Italian executives, who have denied any wrongdoing, would not serve any jail term until the appeal process was exhausted. The prosecutor had sought a six-year jail term for Orsi and a five-year sentence for Spagnolini.
Italian prosecutors had accused Orsi and Spagnolini of paying money to Indian officials through intermediaries and falsifying invoices to bag the deal.
The Italian court in Busto Arsizio may have given its verdict, but the Central Bureau of Investigation is still investigating corruption charges against the two Italian former CEOs, former IAF chief SP Tyagi, three of Tyagi’s cousins, alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke and firms based in Chandigarh, Mauritius and Tunisia.
Asked to comment on the verdict, a CBI spokesperson said, “We are yet to get a certified copy of the judgment. “ A CBI source, however, said the Italian verdict would not affect the Indian investigations.
As reported by HT on Tuesday, the state-controlled Finmeccanica is prepared to put a new proposal on the table to repair frayed ties with India. The firm would consider a plan that involves paying up a penalty to India to reboot the relationship, the firm’s new CEO Mauro Moretti had told HT in an exclusive interview in Rome.
Legal proceedings in Italy have exonerated the firm and held it was not criminally liable for the alleged actions of former top executives. The total amount of penalties paid by the group to reach a settlement with the prosecutors stands at Euro 7.88 million.