Finmeccanica CEO, Italian middlemen arrested in Indian VVIP chopper probe
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"Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland," Italian news agency Ansa said.
Prosecutors suspect that around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 per cent of the deal were ploughed back into kickbacks to ensure AgustaWestland won the contract, the agency reported.
State-controlled Finmeccanica has previously said it has always done business in India through official channels.
Italy's corporate class has been shaken recently by a series of corruption cases, notably a derivatives scandal at Banca Monte dei Paschi and an alleged bribery case involving oil service group Saipem.
The latest series of scandals have become an issue in Italy's campaign for parliamentary elections to be held on February 24-25.
After the arrest, the Italian firm said in a statement that "Finmeccanica expresses support for its Chairman and CEO, with the hope that clarity is established quickly, whilst reaffirming its confidence in the Judges."
It added, "With reference to the precautionary measures issued today towards the Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica and the CEO of the controlled Company AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica confirms that operating activities and ongoing projects of the Company will continue as usual."
Orsi, who had known he was under investigation over the case for months, denied any wrongdoing before his arrest and said he would only resign his post if asked to do so by the Italian government, ANSA news agency reported.
Police searched Orsi's home and the defence contractor's offices in Milan on Tuesday, it said. The company is approximately 30 per cent owned by the Italian state.
Despite initial objections by the finance ministry, the CCS had cleared the deal in 2010.