March 22, 2013 / 6:45 PM / 5 years ago

Italy seeks extradition of Swiss resident in Finmeccanica probe

MILAN, March 22 (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors have asked for the extradition of a Swiss resident as part of a probe into allegations of bribery in an Indian helicopter deal won by Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland in 2010, Italian judicial sources said on Friday.

Prosecutors allege Guido Ralph Haschke, 61, an Italian and U.S. citizen who lives in Lugano, Switzerland, acted as an intermediary for bribes they say were paid to Indian officials to win a 560 million-euro ($724 million) contract for 12 helicopters.

Haschke’s lawyer in Italy, Luca Lauri, told Reuters he was surprised by the Italian extradition request, adding: “Haschke has always said he is ready to clarify his role before all authorities.”

The extradition request has been sent by prosecutors to Italy’s Justice Ministry, which must formally pass it on to Swiss authorities.

The investigation escalated in February when Italian police arrested the then Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, who has since remained in jail.

Orsi, who was head of AgustaWestland in 2010, has denied any wrongdoing and had not been charged.

Besides Orsi, Italian magistrates in February also ordered the arrest of three other people including Haschke, who was a consultant for the Finmeccanica group at the time of the Indian tender.

Italian prosecutors said in the February arrest warrant that AgustaWestland managers paid go-betweens to help twist rules in the helicopter tender won AgustaWestland.

Haschke was briefly arrested by Swiss authorities last October in connection with the Finmeccanica probe. He denied any wrongdoing on his release. ($1 = 0.7737 euros) (Reporting By Emilio Parodi, writing by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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