In its biggest ever probe into corruption in defence deals, Italy is in the process of investigating allegations that helicopter maker Agusta Westland paid a €51 million commission to a Switzerland-based consultant for a deal to sell 12 VVIP choppers to India.
According to reports in major Italian newspapers like La Repubblica and Messaggero investigators raided the Swiss offices of the consultant, Guido Ralph Haschke, after a former top employee of the helicopter company revealed that he was hired to ''facilitate'' the Rs3,546-crore deal with India.
Haschke, 62, is known to be part of the close-knit defence business circle in New Delhi and makes frequent trips to India. He is also very familiar with the working of the defence sector in the country.
SEBI records, show that Haschke, who is believed to hold dual citizenship of Switzerland and the US, was a member of the board of the Emaar MGF group in 2009 and was listed as an independent and non-executive director and business consultant. It is mentioned that he resigned from the directorship due to ''personal reasons''.
Italian investigators reportedly acted on the testimony of Lorenzo Borgogni, the former head of external relations of Finmeccanica, Agusta Westland's parent company. According to Borgogni, Haschke was initially hired as an ''intermediary'' for a sum of €41 million, and that his ''compensation'' was raised at the last minute by €10 million.
Reports said, Italian investigators were focusing on the escalation of €10 million, which allegedly were used by the officials of the helicopter company to bribe Italian political parties. Several documents regarding the agreement have reportedly been recovered by prosecutors who raided Haschke's offices in Lugano in Switzerland.