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Monday
Oct062014

Ex Finmeccanica CEO casts himself as graft fighter felled by palace intrigue

Former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi is on trial in an Italian court for offering bribes to officials in India to win a $700 million helicopter contract.

During a summation last week, his lawyer, Ennio Amodio, said Orsi was innocent of all charges and that no bribes were offered.

The court in northern Italy will deliver its verdict on October 9, Defense News said Sunday.

Bruno Spagnolini, a former executive at Finmeccanica helicopter unit AgustaWestland, is also on trial.

Prosecutors want Orsi, pictured above, jailed six years for the alleged bribery in 2010. And they've asked for a five-year prison term for  Spagnolini.

Orsi 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.

Orsi thought his role at Finmeccanica's headquarters in Rome was to break up the old guard and clean up corruption there, his lawyer told the court.

To do that, he fired 40 people, including former external relations manager Lorenzo Borgogni.

“And that is why Borgogni began to talk to magistrates -- because he had been ousted by Orsi,” defense lawyer Amodio said.

"Borgogni told investigators he had heard of bribes being paid in India, and had heard that Orsi had also paid an Italian political party a bribe to secure his promotion to group CEO," Defense News said.

Italian prosecutors later dropped the domestic bribery allegations but continued to investige the India claims.

Another witness against Orsi is Swiss engineering consultant Guido Ralph Haschke. Prosecutors have said he was the go-between for bribes paid to three cousins of the then head of the Indian Air Force, Sashi Tyagi.

During Orsi's trial, Haschke reached a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to a year and ten months in prison.

But Orsi's lawyer has argued that Haschke wasn't involved in the India helicopter deal and didn't know anything about it.

Defense lawyer Amodio said the Swiss consultant was closely tied to Giuseppe Zampini, the then-head of Finmeccanica unit Ansaldo Energia, "whom he described as Orsi's rival to land the job of Finmeccanica CEO," Defense News said.

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