First set of documents were transferred last February

AgustaWestland Switzerland confirms three requests for legal assistance from India
news Corruption Thursday, May 05, 2016 - 07:45

Indian authorities have submitted three requests for legal assistance for the AgustaWestland investigations to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), The News Minute (TNM) has learnt. All three requests have been made in the framework and context of the investigations in India, concerning in particular the role of middlemen Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlos Gerosa. A first set of papers has been transferred to New Delhi.

“We received two requests in August 2014 and one in November 2015…In February 2016 the FOJ handed over to the Indian embassy in Berne documents that have been gathered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland,” Folco Galli, chief spokesperson, FOJ said.  The process is on going at it is not possible to establish a date of completion.

The FOJ has delegated the execution of these requests to the OAG as per Swiss procedures in matters of international assistance. For its part, the OAG has also confirmed to TNM that the requests have been received but says “…for the time being no further information can be given by the OAG.” The office also noted that “…the responsibility for any communication (including information about the content of the request) falls within the competence…” of the requesting authority. In this case, the requesting authority is India.

Due process, jurisdiction, scope of enquiry and framing of charges are as critical to international corruption investigations as documentary evidence and proof. The principle of dual criminality is key.  

Hashcke an American-Italian citizen was extradited from Switzerland to Italy in October 2013, six months after Berne received a request for his arrest and extradition. Earlier this week Galli told TNM that India could request Italy to extradite Hashcke, the middleman in the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland bribery scam. He is a key witness in the bribes trail.

The helicopter scam dogged the final years of the Congress-led UPA with allegations of bribery and kickbacks being traded between India’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the helicopter manufacturer.  Last week the former CEO of the Italian group Finmeccanica Guiseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AugustaWestland (a subsidiary of the former), were sentenced to jail for false accounting. 

Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar placed a chronology of events in the case beginning with the purchase process and ending with the reasons for cancelling the order. Congress politicians also spoke of corruption in the deal but roundly debunked claims that senior Congress party functionaries were paid

If India seeks to extradite Hashcke to New Delhi for investigations, Switzerland will examine their consent to his re-extradition to India from Italy. “In the framework of the procedure regarding re-extradition, Switzerland would assess all relevant questions just like an ordinary extradition directly between Switzerland and India. Such assessments would include guarantees with regard to the safeguard of fundamental rights concerning penal proceedings in India,” Galli said.

Read our piece on this here

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.