An Indian Navy Chetak helicopter. (Photo courtesy of www.kaypius.com.)
The India Ministry of Defence has renewed its ban on Leonardo in bidding on defense acquisition programs in the country.
The ministry "has decided to further extend the period of suspension of business dealing with" Leonardo until November this year, according to a June 28 notice from B.P. Pant, the undersecretary of the vigilance section of the India Ministry of Defence.
The ministry has renewed bans on Leonardo and its predecessor companies Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland since July 2014 in the wake of the 2013 corruption charges against then-Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini in a $672 million deal for 12 AW101 helicopters for VVIPs.
In May, Italy's highest court, the Corte di Cassazione, acquitted Orsi and Spagnolini, thus ending a court saga of back-and-forth decisions and reversals. In 2016, a lower appeals court had convicted the former executives and sentenced them to prison terms of four and a half years.
The continued ban on Leonardo bids for Indian defense business means the company will unlikely be able to make an offer for the $3.5 billion Indian Naval Utility Helicopter program, which aims to procure 111 helicopters to replace India's Alouette III/SA 316B Chetak helicopters, which have been in service with the Indian Navy since the 1960s and which have had a string of crashes in recent years.