World

Italy’s Highest Court of Appeal Orders Retrial of Top AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica Officials

The decision comes days after former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin and another Indian businessman were arrested by the CBI for being a party to bribery.

Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi. Credit: Reuters

Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi. Credit: Reuters

Rome: Italy’s highest court of appeal on Friday accepted the plea and ordered a re-trial of the former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, who were earlier convicted for paying bribes to Indian government officials for the sale of 12 helicopters for a 560 million Euro contract.

The Supreme Court of Cassation’s decision comes days after former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin and another Indian businessman were arrested by the CBI for being a party to bribery.

The CBI had arrested Tyagi based on evidence that included “financial transactions received from abroad”.

Earlier this year, an Italian court had said that there was sufficient evidence to prove corruption in the AgustaWestland deal and that direct payments were made to Tyagi and his family members. This put some momentum into the CBI’s investigation, which had sought a copy of the judgment through the external affairs ministry, as per media reports.

The 2010 contract for the AgustaWestland helicopters was cancelled two years ago after Orsi and Spagnolini were sentenced – not for corruption, but for false billing. AgustaWestland had dragged India to international arbitration in Paris to challenge the cancellation.

When Orsi appealed against the lower court order, the Milan court of appeal in April found grounds to sentence him for bribery and also made observations about evidence against the Tgyagis.

As per the Italian news agency ANSA, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation accepted the request of officiating Prosecutor General Enrico Delegaye that there was procedural error in the judgement of the Milan court of appeals. However, the details of the procedural error is not yet clear.