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Italian Court Acquits 2 Former Bosses of Defence Company in Bribery Case Related to VVIP Chopper Scam

Giuseppe Orsi, former chief executive of the Italian state-controlled defence group previously known as Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former head of its helicopter business AgustaWestland, were both cleared of corruption charges.

Reuters

Updated:May 22, 2019, 9:39 PM IST
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Italian Court Acquits 2 Former Bosses of Defence Company in Bribery Case Related to VVIP Chopper Scam
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Milan: Italy's supreme court on Wednesday acquitted two former executives of defence company Leonardo in a bribery case related to a 2010 helicopter contract with the Indian government.

Giuseppe Orsi, former chief executive of the Italian state-controlled defence group previously known as Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former head of its helicopter business AgustaWestland, were both cleared of corruption charges.

The state prosecutor in the case had asked for the pair to be acquitted citing a lack of sufficient proof.

An appeals court in 2016 had found the two former executives of the Rome-based group guilty on corruption charges related to a 560 million euro ($672 million) contract to supply a dozen helicopters, giving them prison sentences of four and 4-1/2 years.

However, Italy's highest court ordered a retrial of the case, and in 2018 another appeals court acquitted the two. No further appeal is possible after Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling.

A separate trial into suspected corruption and money laundering is still open in India.

The case was a big political issue in Italy and India when it opened in 2012 and tarnished the company's reputation at a time when India had established itself as one the world's biggest arms buyers. The Italian group has always said the case was against individuals rather than the company itself.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Leonardo in July 2014. Its helicopter business AgustaWestland, which was treated separately, agreed a 7.5 million euro settlement with the court a month later.

India cancelled the helicopter contract in 2013 after Orsi was arrested, but AgustaWestland opposed India's decision. The contract remains suspended and the subject of international arbitration in Paris.

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