New Delhi, Dec 17: Italy’s Supreme Court has ordered a retrial in the AgustaWestland scam. The top judicial body of Italy would conduct fresh trials in the case. The order comes nearly eight months after an Appeals’ Court in Italy sentenced four and a half years in prison to Giuseppe Orsi, the former CEO of Finmeccanica (parent firm of AgustaWestland). Orsi was charged of paying kickbacks to Indian officials and politicians to win the contract for supplying VVIP choppers.
The UPA government, led by Dr Manmohan Singh, had awarded the contract for 12 AW101 helicopters to AgustaWestland in 2010. The deal was worth Rs 3,767 crores. Orsi, along with Bruno Spagnolini, were arrested first in 2013, after Italian probing agencies found that the duo had offered nearly 12 per cent of contract amount as bribe to secure the contract. According to reports, the exact amount of bribe circulated among Indian bureacrats and politicians is Rs 434 crore. The deal was cancelled by the Indian government in 2013. A probe was subsequently ordered.
Important to note is that the magisterial court in Italy had earlier acquitted Orsi of the corruption charges. It instead, sentenced him to two years in prison on grounds of maintaining false accounts book. However, the prosecution appealed in the higher court, which found Orsi and Bruno guilty of corruption. In April, both of them were sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
The impact of the April order in Italian Appeals Court was evident in India. From the 1.25 lakh page order released by the court, India’s central probing agency, the CBI found crucial leads in the case. The agency, recently arrested former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, under whose era, the VVIP choppers were given clearance.