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Business News

AgustaWestland trial starts

Two former chief executives of Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland went on trial in Italy yesterday, accused of corruption over a €560m (£479m) deal to sell helicopters to India.

Bruno Spagnolini is accused alongside Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's Italian parent, which is part owned by the state. Both men stepped down from their posts shortly after they were arrested in Italy earlier this year and deny any wrongdoing.

The deal to provide 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India, to be used to transport "VVIPs", including the Indian Prime Minister, was signed in February 2010 when Mr Orsi headed AgustaWestland. The business beat off stiff competition, including from US company Sikorsky.

India has since frozen payments for the helicopters pending an inquiry by the country's Central Bureau of Investigation. It has said it is seeking to cancel the deal. Neither Mr Orsi or Mr Spagnolini were in court. The next hearing will be on 11 July.