As trial begins this week into alleged corruption by executives of AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica in swinging a Rs. 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with India, the Ministry of Defence and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are sending a team to Milan to attend the trial proceedings.

Italian agencies are probing allegations of corrupt practices and financial irregularities against top executives of U.K.-based AgustaWestland and its parent company, Italy-based Finmeccanica, in securing deal for supplying 12 helicopters to India.

Sources said the Defence Ministry wanted a CBI officer in the team to assist it with the findings that may come up during the trial proceedings. The CBI has already booked former IAF Chief S.P. Tyagi, his three cousins, and nine others, including the two companies, and European middlemen, involved in the alleged kickbacks of around Rs. 362 crore.

Italian prosecutors have submitted their report before the authorities there and the trial is likely to begin from June 19, sources said. In its FIR, the CBI had alleged that middleman Guido Haschke, through his Tunisia-based company Gordian Services Sarl, entered into several consultancy contracts with AgustaWestland from 2004-05 and also made consultancy contracts with the Tyagi brothers, cousins of the former IAF chief. Under cover of these contracts, Haschke allegedly made payoffs to the tune of €1.26 lakh and €2 lakh to the Tyagi brothers.

The CBI has also finalised Letters Rogatory to four countries seeking information about these transactions. Earlier, Italian prosecutors had requested an instant trial — without going through any preliminary hearings — for Giuseppe Orsi, the former CEO of State-controlled defence giant Finmeccanica, along with an instant retrial for Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of the company’s AgustaWestland helicopter unit. Orsi and Spagnolini are suspected of corruption in relation to bribes allegedly paid to secure a contract to sell AgustaWestland helicopters to India. Probe agencies in both Italy and India have been investigating Finmeccanica, which employs some 70,000 persons around the world, over the alleged kickbacks paid in the sale of the helicopters to the IAF. Orsi and Spagnolini are accused of issuing false invoices.

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