India ordered on Tuesday an inquiry into reports of alleged bribery of government officials by Italy’s Finmeccanica after the aerospace giant’s chief was said to have been arrested by Italian police.
“A probe by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has been ordered and further details will be given soon,” Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP.
The announcement came after Italian media reported earlier on Tuesday that police had arrested the chief executive of Finmeccanica for corruption and embezzlement in relation to alleged bribes given to the Indian government.
Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010.
The magistrate in the case also issued an order for the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to be put under house arrest.
The size of the helicopter deal was valued at $748 million last November in a statement given to the Indian Parliament by the government.
The delivery of the choppers was scheduled for between January and July of this year.
Two suspected intermediaries in the bribes who reside in Switzerland have also been targeted with extradition requests, the reports said.
Separately, Finmeccanica issued an emailed statement from Rome saying that its operations “will continue as usual”.
It said it was issuing the statement “with reference to the precautionary measures issued today towards the chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica and the CEO of the controlled company AgustaWestland”.
In addition, the company said it “expresses support” for Orsi and hoped “that clarity is established quickly, whilst reaffirming its confidence in the judges”.