ndia’s government has cancelled its $770 million contract with AgustaWestland to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) amid bribery allegations. On January 1, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) issued a statement saying the government “has terminated with immediate effect the agreement…on the grounds of breach of the pre-contract integrity pact and the agreement” by AgustaWestland. The Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer denies the allegations.
India’s attorney general, Goolamhussein Essaji Vahanvati, ruled last week that AgustaWestland breached contractual obligations and an associated “integrity pact” in winning a $787 million contract to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010, raising the possibility the government will cancel the deal.
The corruption trial of former AgustaWestland CEOs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini is set to resume this month, with defense lawyers prepared to call an international witness list of top government officials and industry leaders. The men are charged with orchestrating bribes in connection with the sale of 12 AW101s to the government of India in 2010 when Orsi was CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland and Spagnolini was his deputy.
The European Union has been criticized in the past for being slow with regards to reforming its own transparency regime, creating a negative impact on the credibility of European companies. Finmeccanica (Chalet A232, Static C65) has made a head start with its compliance program, which focuses on trade controls for sensitive transactions and business ethics, said Walter Vasselli, senior compliance officer for the Italian company.
AgustaWestland has said it expects to be cleared of bribery allegations relating to an Indian government order for 12 AW101 VIP helicopters. At press time, the Italian-UK joint venture was responding to questions from the Indian defense ministry in relation to a “show cause notice” that could result in the cancellation of the $750 million contract. It had until February 22 to answer these questions.
On Thursday, Finmeccanica’s board nominated Daniele Romiti as the new CEO of subsidiary AgustaWestland, replacing Bruno Spagnolini. Romiti, who was promoted from COO, has since been endorsed for the position by AgustaWestland’s own board. Spagnolini and Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of AW parent Finmeccanica, were arrested February 12 as part of an ongoing bribery investigation involving the sale of 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the government of India.
The Indian government has begun the process to cancel its contract with AgustaWestland (AW) for 12 AW101 VIP transport helicopters.
Italian police arrested the current and former CEOs of AgustaWestland on bribery charges this morning and raided the company’s Milan headquarters. Giuseppe Orsi, who served as the helicopter manufacturer’s CEO until December 2011 and is currently head of its parent company, Finmeccanica, was taken into custody, while current AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini was placed under house arrest.