The corruption trial of former AgustaWestland CEOs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini is set to resume this month, with defense lawyers prepared to call an international witness list of top government officials and industry leaders. The men are charged with orchestrating bribes in connection with the sale of 12 AW101s to the government of India in 2010 when Orsi was CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland and Spagnolini was his deputy. Orsi was later promoted to chairman of Finmeccanica and Spagnolini was promoted to run AgustaWestland. Since being charged earlier this year, Orsi resigned and Spagnolini was terminated. Both men deny any wrong-doing.
Under Italian law, witnesses cleared to testify may not necessarily be called to do so. The potential list of defense witnesses includes heavy hitters such as Ratan Tata, the former chairman of India’s largest industrial conglomerate, the Tata Group; Indian defense minister A.K. Antony; and former UK defense secretary Geoffrey Hoon. The AW101 is manufactured in Yeovil, UK. If called, the witnesses are expected to be questioned about how business is conducted in India. Antony was the Indian defense minister when the contract was awarded. The defense is expected to argue that Orsi and Spagnolini did nothing outside the normal scope of accepted business practices in India in winning the contract. AgustaWestland could be blacklisted by the Indian government under terms of its new and strict anti-corruption laws if Orsi and Spagnolini are convicted. The Indian government has begun its own inquiry into the matter.