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Finmeccanica chief arrested for India bribes

The head of Italian defense firm Finmeccanica SpA was arrested Tuesday by Italian police on allegations that he bribed Indian officials to win sales of helicopters.

Giuseppe Orsi allegedly paid the bribes when he led AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, according to a report by Reuters.

Police searched Orsi’s home and several offices at AgustaWestland near Milan, Reuters said.

The head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, and two others are under house arrest in the probe.

According to the New York Times, ‘the first helicopters, for use by India’s political leaders, were due to be delivered by December 2012 after a €560 million, or $750 million, contract was awarded in 2010.’

It’s not clear if India has started an investigation into the allegations. The Times said Italy hasn’t disclosed details of the corruption allegations to Indian authorities.

Orsi has led Finmeccanica since 2011. The Italian government owns about 30 percent of the company, which is Italy’s second biggest employer behind Fiat.

Italy has been roiled by recent corporate bribery scandals.

The CEO of Italian energy giant Eni SpA, Paolo Scaroni, is under investigation by Italian authorities for bribes allegedly paid in Algeria by its subsidiary Saipem SpA.

Saipem’s CEO Pietro Franco Tali resigned in December after the company disclosed an investigation into payments to Sonatrach, the Algerian state-owned oil company.

Orsi has ‘always denied any wrongdoing with regard to the corruption probe, which has been going on for a year,’ Reuters said.

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