New Delhi: Guido Haschke, the key middleman accused of bribing Indian officials to help a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica(SIFI.MI) win a helicopter contract has struck a plea bargain with Italian prosecutors.
The plea bargain agreement is a shot in the arm for Italian investigators, who have been working for more than two years to prove that bribes worth 51 million euros were generated in the controversial 2010 contract to supply 12 VVIP choppers to the IAF, and has to be ratified by the courts.
Haschke and the prosecutor in charge of the case in the northern Italian town of Busto Arsizio, Eugenio Fusco, declined to comment.
Under Italian law, entering a plea bargain does not amount to an admission of guilt. Haschke has never publicly admitted the bribery accusations.
The case has embarrassed the New Delhi government before parliamentary elections.
India cancelled the helicopter deal in January, citing a breach of integrity relating to alleged corruption after having frozen payments for the 12 AW101 helicopters last year.
New Delhi, which has agreed to AgustaWestland's calls for arbitration, is also seeking to recover more than 278 million euros in bank guarantees backing the scrapped deal.
Several top officials, including Tyagi, have been questioned and more are to be called by the CBI after securing clearances from the Central government.
In a separate development in the Italian court, the prosecution has produced a handwritten note it claimed was recovered last year from the cell of jailed former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi.