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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

World

Chopper deal bribes 'paid' via Tunisia, Italian execs to face court
AFP
Rome, February 15, 2013
First Published: 17:12 IST(15/2/2013)
Last Updated: 17:17 IST(15/2/2013)

Two top Italian defence executives arrested in a bribery scandal over the sale of 12 helicopters to India faced arraignment on Friday, as leaks revealed the alleged payments went to India via Tunisia.

The former chief executive of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, and the former head of its helicopter division Agusta Westland, Bruno Spagnolini, were due to appear before a judge.

Bribes amounting to 20 million euros ($27 million) were paid through two Switzerland-based intermediaries, Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, who are officially fugitives, Italian media said citing investigative documents.

Total bribes paid for the 556-million-euro deal were 30 million euros, investigators believe.

Investigators say payments were made through Tunisia-registered companies controlled by Haschke and Gerosa and were then transferred to accounts in India and Mauritius belonging to a company called Aeromatrix, the reports said.

"The money was destined for intermediaries and to remunerate corrupt public officials," Orsi's arrest warrant was quoted by Il Messaggero daily as saying.

Italian police have so far arrested two people, Orsi and Spagnolini, and carried out 37 raids including on the two execs' homes and offices.

The two are accused of international corruption and tax fraud.

Italian prosecutors have requested the extradition of Haschke and Gerosa.

During a raid on Haschke's mother's house, La Repubblica daily said police had found details of a plan to pay an Indian general referred to as "Saini" a 0.5% commission, around five million dollars, for a helicopter deal.

The discovery was first reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano daily.

La Repubblica quoted from a transcript of a bugged phone conversation involving Orsi in which the CEO could be heard saying: "They're talking about the Indian general? Shit, are they talking about the 0.5%?"


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