AgustaWestland chopper deal: Middlemen paid Finmeccanica's India head monthly 'salary'
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The Swiss-based middlemen linked to the alleged kickbacks paid in India for the VVIP chopper deal not only had partners in the Indian power circuit but also allegedly had the India head of Finmeccanica on a monthly payroll to help them with their work.
Lugano-based consultant Guido Haschke, whose confession to Italian prosecutors is considered key to the graft investigation, has claimed that he paid Girasole Paolo, the India head of Finmeccanica, 10,000 euros every month to ensure his cooperation. Paolo is also believed to have helped the middlemen get a lucrative consultancy project.
"I paid Girasole a total amount of around 200,000/220,000 euros. Girasole has been Finmeccanica representative in India since 2009. Pozzessere, who was his senior, introduced him to me. I knew that he too liked being rewarded," Haschke has said in his statement.
The timing cited by him coincides with a critical stage in the procurement process of the VVIP helicopter. Asked by interrogators why he was paid such a high amount and whether he did a lot of work for them, Haschke says Paolo arranged to get them a consultancy from Otomelara, a Finmeccanica company that manufactures naval guns.
"Officially, he was the representative of Finmeccanica but he was also our correspondent, although unofficially. This is why we were paying him so much," the statement reads, adding that the last payment was made in 2012.
"All payments were cash. Basically Girasole was paid 10,000 euros a month by us to do the work Gerosa and I would have had to do if we had been in India full time," Haschke has said, referring to his partner Carlo Gerosa.
Paolo was removed as the Indian head and shifted out of India after his name surfaced in connection with the chopper deal in a series of reports in The Indian Express. He is, however, still associated with Finmeccanica and is reportedly posted in Italy.