MILAN (Reuters) - Italian tax police carried out searches in several cities on Thursday relating to allegations of corruption by former managers of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland over a helicopter contract in Algeria, Italian prosecutors said.
The new investigation comes as Finmeccanica’s CEO Mauro Moretti, appointed last year, seeks to restore the state-controlled defence group’s reputation after a separate bribery scandal in 2010 involving military helicopter sales to India.
The prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday that the new probe concerned the alleged creation of “slush funds” and fake invoices by former AgustaWestland managers to help it win a contract to supply helicopters to the Algerian government in 2009-2011.
Finmeccanica said on Thursday it saw itself as the damaged party in the probe, adding that the case involved a previous management team in charge in 2009-2011.
The prosecutors’ statement said 41 search orders were being executed in various locations across Italy including in the area of Varese, where AgustaWestland’s administrative offices are based.
Finmeccanica’s shares closed down 3.16 percent at 11.05 euros, while Milan’s bluechip index ended down 0.5 percent.
In the Indian scandal, former Finmeccanica Chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi was sentenced to two years in jail for falsifying invoices, but he was cleared of more serious corruption charges.
Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland have denied any wrongdoing in the Indian case.
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman