|PHOTO / STREGA|
International media report that Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi has been arrested by Italian police on charges of subsidiary company AgustaWestland paying a bribe to the Indian government to swing a 2010 deal for 12 AW101 VVIP transport helicopters, the first of which (see photo) arrived in India in December last year. Here’s a run-through of earlier posts on the controversy:
In October 2012, AgustaWestland denied all wrongdoing, and said it had not engaged middlemen of any kind for the deal.
In October 2012, Headlines Today reported on an ‘Indian connection’ in the AgustaWestland deal.
A day earlier, the Indian MoD began an investigation into allegations that surfaced after a series of reports in The Indian Express and Headlines Today on the investigation in Italy. I reported at the time that the investigations could also impinge on the 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition. Turns out, that was correct.
In April last year, the Indian government ordered the Indian Embassy in Rome to acquire more details about the Italian investigation. The Indian defence minister subsequently informed Parliament that the Italian investigation did not pertain to the Indian deal. The arrest of Orsi today throws up several questions on why the Indian government hasn’t shown more alacrity to investigate the allegations.
In Feb 2010, the Indian government signed a $770-million deal for 12 AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP transport helicopters for the Indian Air Force. A Mail Today report stated that the Indian government had pushed the deal through with a list of deviations.