Eight months and 10 days after its decision acquitting AgustaWestland officials of corruption charges in the VVIP helicopter deal with India, an Italian appeals court in Milan last week gave its judgment detailing the reasons for finding no evidence of graft.
“There is, conclusively, no evidence of the corrective agreement stipulated according to the imputation, with the foreign public official, just as it requires the incriminating law,” the court said in its 322-page judgment, according to news agency Reuters (Milan). The detailed judgment was released last Monday by the court, although it was supposed to be issued within 90 days of the order in January.
The court also said that the allegation that the operational ceiling limit for flying the helicopter was changed on illegal payment to the then IAF chief was not chronologically possible as per the evidence submitted. Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi (retd) has been alleged to be one of the beneficiaries of corruption in the case.
On January 8, the Italian court had acquitted former Finmeccanica president Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini on charges of illegal payment of 560 million Euros in the deal to sell 12 AW101 helicopters to India. The Indian Defence Ministry was represented by the lawyer Francesca Rolla of Hogan Lovells and by lawyer Roberto Losengo as a court substitute, as per the court documents cited by Reuters.
As per Reuters, the publication of the detailed judgment is likely to lead to final closure of the case in Italy. There is little chance of any further appeal being passed in this case as it has already gone through a first-degree trial, two appellate trials and a Supreme Court ruling in Italy, the news agency said.
Orsi had been arrested in February 2013 by Italian authorities in this case, while Spagnolini was put under house arrest. Italian-American consultant Guido Ralph Haschke was sentenced to one year and 10 months in April 2014, while heavy fines were imposed on AgustaWestland.
Orsi and Spagnolini were acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court in late 2016 after a Court of appeal convicted them in April 2016. The Italian Supreme Court also ordered a new trial at their request, in which their acquittals were issued this January.
The detailed judgment of the Italian court comes days after news that alleged middleman Christian Michel’s extradition to India had been cleared by a Dubai court. Michel, a British citizen, is one of three alleged middlemen accused of bribing Indian officials to secure the Rs 3,600-crore deal.