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Former Finmeccanica head convicted in AgustaWestland scandal

An Italian court sentenced former Finmeccanica Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi to two years in jail for falsifying invoices in a corruption case linked to the AgustaWestland scandal. The court, however, cleared him of more serious corruption charges.

The trial near Milan revolved around a euro 560 million ($ 715 million) contract awarded to Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland business in 2010 to supply 12 luxury helicopters to the Indian government.

Public prosecutor Eugenio Fusco had accused Orsi and former AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini of paying tens of millions of euros to Indian officials through intermediaries and falsifying invoices to obtain the high-profile contract.

Spagnolini was also sentenced on Thursday to two years in jail on the false invoice charges but acquitted of the corruption accusations.

The scandal has embarrassed New Delhi and tarnished Finmeccanica’s reputation, at a time when the Italian aerospace and defence group is carrying out a tough restructuring.

The Government of India banned the state-controlled Italian company in August from future contracts after terminating the helicopter agreement in January 2013, with only three aircraft delivered.

The two Italian executives, who have denied any wrongdoing, will not serve any jail term until the appeal process is exhausted.

The prosecutor had asked for a six-year jail term for Orsi, who turns 69 in November and ran AgustaWestland before taking the top job at Finmeccanica in 2011. The prosecutor had requested a five-year sentence for Spagnolini.

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