Slovenia-Finnish armaments bribery case widens

HELSINKI Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:16am EST

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HELSINKI Dec 18 (Reuters) - A bribery case that has resulted in Slovenia's prime minister being put on trial widened on Tuesday with the Finnish prosecutor saying the former CEO of defence group Patria and four others were charged with bribing Slovenian officials.

Slovenia ordered 135 armoured vehicles from Patria in 2006 for 278 million euros ($365.9 million), but the deal was scrapped in September following corruption allegations.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa is on trial in Ljubljana with four co-defendants charged with bribery in connection with the deal. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecutor general's office said Patria employees had promised or paid commissions through intermediaries to Slovenian officials, including Jansa.

It said the alleged bribes amounted to at least 10 percent of the total deal value.

The prosecutor general's office also said Patria's former CEO and another employee are being charged with business espionage, after they were found to have documents including trade secrets of an Austrian competitor.

The Finnish government owns around 73 percent of Patria while European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) owns about 27 percent.

($1 = 0.7598 euros) (Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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