Indian chopper deal: Italian co head held on bibery charges

New Delhi: Another scam unfolded on Tuesday with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs, prompting the government to order a CBI probe.
 
The Ministry of Defence also decided to put on hold the receipt of the remaining nine of the 12 helicopters for which the Rs 3600 crore deal was struck in 2010.
 
"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.
 
Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, was at the helm of AugustaWestland when the deal was struck and he is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes.
 
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.
 
The current CEO of AugustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini was put under house arrest, the agency said.
 
In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries around the President, PM and other VVIPs.
 
Soon after the news of arrest reached here today, Defence Minister A K Antony ordered a CBI probe into the deal.
 
The Ministry said it had sought information from governments of Italy and UK but "no specific inputs" were received substantiating the allegations.
 
"Since no specific input has been received from the two governments, the Ministry of Defence has decided to refer the case to CBI for inquiry," Defence Ministry spokesman said.