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Finmeccanica boss under investigation for bribery: reports
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) April 24, 2012

The head of Italian aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica is under investigation after a former executive said the company paid bribes for a helicopter sale to India, media reports said on Tuesday.

Giuseppe Orsi was appointed chairman last year after serving as director of helicopter maker AgustaWestland, which is part of the Finmeccanica Group.

The company's previous chairman, Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, was forced out after nine years in charge following a series of corruption scandals.

The investigation concerns bribes allegedly paid to secure a large contract for 12 AgustaWestland helicopters sold to India in 2010.

Finmeccanica has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the deal.

Investigators reportedly suspect the Northern League, an Italian political party whose finances are being probed, may have received a cut of the money in return for acting as an intermediary in negotiating the bribes.

"The government should renew the entire leadership of Finmeccanica," said Felice Belisario, a senator from the anti-corruption Italy of Values party.

"This incident is alarming and it throws worrying shadows over the opaque management of a fundamental strategic resource of our country," he said.

The Northern League denied the allegations and Finmeccanica said: "Neither AgustaWestland nor Finmeccanica have ever paid bribes to the Northern League.

"AgustaWestland never committed any irregularity or paid any commissions for the sale of the AW101 helicopters to the Indian government, as confirmed by a recent inquiry by the Indian defence ministry," it said in a statement.

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