Yesterday, the Italian police arrested the President of Finmeccanica, Mr. Giuseppe Orsi, and placed under house arrest the Agusta Westland CEO, Mr. Bruno Spagnolini.
Agusta Westland is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, a key State-owned Italian corporation operating in the defense and space sector.
Mr. Orsi and Mr. Spagnolini are suspected of bribing the Indian Government in order to sell to New Delhi twelve military helicopters.
According to some leaked judicial papers, bribes were a well-established way to conduct similar negotiations.
During interrogation the former Public Affairs Director of Finmeccanica, Mr. Lorenzo Borgogni, revealed that bribes were involved in negotiations with many countries, with huge sums of money paid to Italian and foreign politicians, for example former Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Azevedo Jobim.
While the work of the Italian police and District Attorney’s Offices must obviously be praised, one can’t help but pose some questions. Why should some highly-paid, well-positioned public managers risk their career and their freedom to bribe foreign officials ? Could it be that bribes are a necessary evil if you want to operate on the international defense market ?