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VVIP Chopper scam: Two ex-bosses of Finmeccanica cleared of graft

Milan: Former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and ex-AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini were today acquitted of corruption charges in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal with India but were sentenced to two-year jail term on lesser charges of falsification of invoices.

"Former Finmeccannica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and ex-AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini were acquitted of charges of international corruption in relation to alleged bribes paid to land a contract to sell 12 helicopters to the Indian government," Italian news agency Ansa reported.

However, both Orsi and Spagnolini were convicted of false invoicing and sentenced to two years in prison, the agency said.

On January 1, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Air Force for alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore by it for securing the deal.

The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are still probing the case in India where former IAF Chief S P Tyagi and his cousins are alleged to be the beneficiaries.

The ED has booked Tyagi, his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, four firms -- Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland and Chandigarh- based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, few other firms and unknown persons in CBI's criminal complaint.

In view of the corruption charges, India has also barred Finmeccanica and its group companies from participating in defence ministry tenders.

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