Italian court begins hearing appeal in helicopter bribery case

Milan, Jan 19 (IANS/AKI) A court in Italy has begun hearing a plea by two former officials of aerospace giant Finmeccanica against their conviction in a 560 million euro deal to supply 12 VVIP helicopters to India in 2010.

A lower court in October 2014 handed the company’s former chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi and ex-managing director Bruno Spagnoli two-year suspended jail sentences for falsifying invoices in a graft case linked to the Indian deal for the AgustaWestland helicopters.

The court, however, cleared Orsi and Spagnolini of paying tens of millions of euros in bribes to Indian officials, including a former Indain Air Force head, to win the high-profile chopper contract.

Both defendants deny all wrongdoing. A ruling on the appeal is expected in April.

India had suspended the contract in 2013 after Italian investigators began looking into accusations that AgustaWestland paid bribes to win the contract in 2010. Finmeccanica owns helicopter maker AgustaWestland.

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