Italian police search former defense exec’s home in corruption probe

ROME — Magistrates in Italy are probing former Leonardo and Fincantieri officials as part of an investigation into alleged corruption.

Police removed computer files from the homes of ex-Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo and a former Italian Italian prime minister, Massimo D’Alema, and are probing former Fincantieri executive Giuseppe Giordo amid claims bribes were offered to Columbian officials to buy planes and ships.

Gianluca Luongo, D’Alema’s lawyer told Defense News the men were accused of offering the bribes while seeking to organize kickbacks in return.

“We deny all wrongdoing, my client’s involvement in talks was totally transparent,” he said.

Italian media outlets which obtained leaked copies of investigative documents reported magistrates in Naples in southern Italy are focusing on talks to sell M-346 jets built by state-controlled Leonardo, and corvettes and small submarines produced by state-controlled ship yard Fincantieri.

The deal, which did not go ahead, was worth four billion euros and involved suspected kickbacks and bribes worth 80 million euros, the reports stated.

Profumo ran Leonardo from 2017 to last month while Giordo was hired as head of naval operations at Fincantieri in 2019 after a long career with Leonardo’s aircraft division when the firm was known as Finmeccanica.

Before joining Fincantieri he also ran Czech firm Aero Vodochody. His lawyer told Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore that Giordo denied all wrongdoing.

D’Alema, who was Italy’s prime minister from 1998 to 2000 and foreign minister from 2006 to 2008 has said he did get involved in talks to sell planes and ships to Colombia.

“But he merely put the two sides in touch,” said his laywer, Luongo.

Police are now scrutinizing D’Alema’s emails, Whatsapp messages and computer files, he added.

“I am not sure who is behind this investigation but it is very strange and appears to be a trap from the start,” he said.

Italian magistrates are also probing former Colombian foreign minister Marta Lucia Ramirez and other officials, Italian media reported.

Lucia Ramirez tweeted that she was “not involved in the purchasing of military equipment.”

Leonardo was rocked in 2013 by a legal probe by Naples magistrates into the alleged payment of bribes to India linked to a €560 million ($600 million) deal to sell 12 AW101 helicopters.

The head of the Italian firm was arrested as the case wound through Italy’s labyrinthine justice system before the country’s supreme court handed down acquittals in the case in 2019.

By that time the helicopter deal was cancelled and India had ordered a ban on the buying of defense products from Italy, which was only lifted in late 2021.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.



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