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Feb 14, 2013 at 09:15am IST

Italian chopper deal: AgustaWestland in Britain struggles to get deals

London: Two days after the arrest of Finnmeccanica's CEO Giuseppe Orsi, Alessandro Pansa has been appointed as the new CEO. AgustaWestland in Britain is reported to be in the thick of the Rs 3,600 tainted chopper deal. According to the Italian inquiry report 30 million euros of the 50 million euros paid in bribes were through Christian McKell, an agent based in London and he is reported to have been in touch with company officials who have declined to make any comment.

The British part of the company ahead of the takeover by Finnmeccanica has been in a good deal of trouble. A thousand jobs had to be axed, the company won an order to supply presidential helicopters to the US which was then cancelled.

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It has been scrambling around for deals and partnerships. The Westland part of the company has been in trouble with India before.

Of the helicopters supplied to India, two crashed, killing 10 and the rest were returned as scrap. That was a scandal over misuse of aid while this scandal is more serious.

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The scam had unfolded with the arrest on Tuesday of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs. The Ministry of Defence also decided to put on hold the receipt of the remaining nine of the 12 helicopters for which the Rs 3600 crore deal was struck in 2010.

Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland.