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AgustaWestland Helicopter Deal In Jeopardy After Bribery Arrest

Finmeccanica CEO Arrested, Resigns Over The Scandal

The Indian Defense Ministry has given AgustaWestland a short 7-day deadline for an explanation as to why a helicopter contract should not be cancelled. The company is embroiled in a bribery scandal that resulted in the arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi February 12th.

The company is accused of corruption, tax fraud, and making illegal payments in connection with the sale of 12 AW101 helicopters to India. Three have already been delivered, according to Bloomberg News.

Finmeccanica is Italy's largest defence contractor. On February 14, they moved Alessandro Pansa into the CEO position. The company acknowledged that the New Delhi government has asked for an explanation of the deal, but denies that it is a cancellation of the contract. In a statement, AgustaWestland said it is "confident that the full compliance with the relevant laws as well as the good conduct of its past and present senior executives and managers will be demonstrated as soon as practicable.”

Analysts in India say that if the helicopter deal collapses, it could have a ripple effect on other contracts between Finmeccanica and the New Delhi government. One indicated that "blacklisting" Finmeccanica "can't be ruled out."

In a separate release, the Finmeccanica board said the company is "fully operational" under the leadership of Pansa. They deny any wrongdoing in securing the contract over competing helicopters from the U.S. and Russia.

(Indian Air Force AW101 pictured in file image)

FMI: www.finmeccanica.com

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