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Tuesday
Oct142014

Ex Finmeccanica boss Orsi cleared of India bribery

An Italian court Thursday sentenced the former head of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, to two years in prison for false bookkeeping. But he was acquitted of international corruption related to a $712 million deal to sell 12 helicopters to India in 2010.

Former AgustaWestland executive Bruno Spagnolini, Orsi's co-defendant, also received two years for false bookkeeping but was acquitted on the corruption charge.

“We are confident that this judgment will be reversed on appeal,” Orsi's lawyer, Ennio Amodio, told Defense News.

Orsi, pictured above, was the CEO of AgustaWestland when the alleged offenses occurred.

He took over as head of the Finmeccanica group in May 2012. The Italian government owns about 30% of its shares.

A prosecutor had asked the court to sentence Orsi to six years and Spagnolini to five years for corruption.

"The men are unlikely to spend time in custody for their two year sentences thanks to Italian law, while the sentence will not be carried out in any case until Italy’s lengthy appeals procedure is exhausted," Defense News said.

Orsi said after the verdict that the outcome also cleared Sashi Tyagi, the former Indian Air Force chief, who was accused of receiving the bribes.

“This judgment is also important because it gives Marshal Tyagi back his honor after the accusation of having done something that he really had not done.”

After Orsi’s arrest in 2013 on allegations of paying bribes to Tyagi, India canceled the helicopter deal and barred Finmeccanica from new contracts.

Mauro Moretti, the current CEO of Finmeccanica, said the outcome of the trial "removes a shadow that has caused us so much suffering."

The judges have 15 days to publish the reasoning behind their verdict.

Moretti said after the verdict was announced that he had asked to meet with Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, according to Defense News.

“We have an historic relationship with India and we want it to continue,” he said.

Orsi claimed during his trial that he was the victim of political infighting at Finmeccanica.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.