Rome

Scajola probed in Finmeccanica graft case

Ex-Berlusconi industry minister linked to Brazil contracts

Scajola probed in Finmeccanica graft case

Rome, October 23 - Italy's former industry minister Claudio Scajola was placed under a graft investigation Tuesday for his role in Italian defence giant Finmeccanica's supply contracts to Brazil. "I reiterate that with respect to my responsibilities as industry minister, I traveled the world always respecting the laws and the rules," Scajola told Italian television. Earlier in the day a senior manager of the State-controlled defence group was arrested in connection with investigations into the supply of helicopters and weapons to Panama. Former commercial director Paolo Pozzessere, currently Finmeccanica's senior advisor for relations with Russia, was arrested on suspicion of international corruption in relation to deliveries made by three Finmeccanica subsidiaries, AgustaWestland, Selex and Telespazio, to the Panama government under agreements with the Italian State. Finmeccanica is 30%-owned by the Italian government. Scajola, who served under ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, is suspected of involvement in corrupt deals involving the supply of naval frigates to Brazil. "I always conducted these duties in the light of day and in official meetings," he said. "I have never had private encounters. I am at ease and do not understand what there is behind it, but from now on I am available to the magistrates should they want to hear me on the matter". The investigations come as Finmeccanica and its CEO Giuseppe Orsi find themselves at the centre of controversy over an alleged kickback scheme connected to a 560-million-euro contract involving the sale in 2010 of 12 helicopters by AgustaWestland to the Indian government. Orsi has denied any wrongdoing and said he would only resign his post if asked to do so by the Italian government. The CEO has also denied any wrongdoing in an investigation that began earlier this year into the alleged payment of bribes to political parties.

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