Tuesday, March 5, 2013
AgustaWestland India Dispute: More Smoke Than Fire?
Indian government "asked to know more and we made ourselves immediately available so we arranged for a full pack of documents to be sent—so full transparency.”
The expectation of a battle royale between the press and the management team from AgustaWestland at the company’s press conference on the eve of the opening of Heli-Expo in Las Vegas over the alleged Indian AW101 scandal in India did not materialize.
Instead, newly appointed CEO Daniele Romiti (since February 21) and longstanding employee Roberto Garavaglia, senior vice president of marketing, treated the event with only passing references to the arrest of Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi and the allegations of corruption over the Indian AW101 procurement.
Roberto Garavaglia and new AgustaWestland CEO Daniele Romiti during a rare smiling moment at the company's Heli-Expo press conference on Monday evening. Following an overview of the company's family of products, the new AgustaWestland leader fielded questions about an ongoing investigation involving India's procurement of AW101s that resulted in the arrest of now-former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi. Photo by Andrew Parker
Either the press didn’t “press” hard enough, or there really is a lot of smoke without much fire, as the speaker panel would have us believe. When questioned about the Indian corruption allegation, Romiti commented along the lines that “the situation with the Indian government [regarding the contract] has not yet been effected by the stories that have emanated from the Italian press.”
An industry source indicated that an ex-Finmeccanica employee initiated the whole story, being able to make certain accusations that have been followed up without full and irrefutable substantiation or documentary evidence. The whole saga is also influenced by the politicking of how the Italian judiciary “conducts business.”
Romiti on Monday reconfirmed that the Indian Ministry of Defence had issued a press release in February stating that they believed the process of selection of the AW101 had been carried correctly and in a competitive environment. Romiti continued: “The contract is going on even though the payment has been put on hold.” When asked about ongoing contact with the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), he stated: “They asked to know more and we made ourselves immediately available so we arranged for a full pack of documents to be sent—so full transparency.”
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