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The Milan court has sentenced former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and former CEO of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to two years in prison for falsifying invoices. It has also fined them 15,000 Euros each. Both will appeal to a higher court - they will not serve any jail term until the appeal process is exhausted.
The verdict in Italy brings relief not just to the former Air Force chief, who is also being investigated by the CBI back home, but also the Congress, which led the previous UPA government that was left deeply embarrassed by the scandal.
The BJP, then in the opposition, had alleged that the Congress-led government had attempted to cover up the "scam" from the time it came to light and only scrapped the chopper deal when it was compelled to do so.
Air Marshal Tyagi said today, "I served the nation for 40 years, this is what I got. I am thankful to God for this start. Finger pointing is not good." The CBI is investigating the allegation that he was given kickbacks through a maze of companies who dealt with his cousins. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The trial in Italy centred on corruption allegations against Finmeccanica in the Rs 3,600 crore deal. Its British unit, AgustaWestland, was contracted by India in 2010 to supply 12 high-end helicopters.
In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate whether kickbacks were paid to Indian officials, as alleged in Italian courts.
At the time of cancellation, three helicopters had already been delivered to India against a payment of nearly Rs. 1,100 crore.
The CBI has alleged that the former Air Force chief was instrumental in influencing decisions that changed the tender terms to favour the specification of AgustaWestland's helicopters. Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi was head of the Air Force from 2004-2007.
The CBI says that the tender was changed to include technical specifications that would favour AgustaWestland.
In August, the Modi government banned Finmeccanica from future contracts.