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Leonardo: also Italian M5S party asks for clarifications on the Qatar order

Italian question: to the Minister of Defense presented to the Senate

The Italian Chamber of Deputies website reports the following:

"To the Minister of Defense.

Given that, as far as the questioners are concerned:

Leonardo SpA is an Italian company active in the defense, aerospace and security sectors. Its managing director is Alessandro Profumo;

on March 14, 2018 during the 'Dimdex' air show in Doha, Qatar, Leonardo signed a contract with Qatar for the sale of 16 NH-90 TTH land-based helicopters, produced by Airbus (estimated value for aircraft only: EUR 579 millions) plus 12 NH-90 NFH for naval missions, produced by Leonardo (for a value of EUR 564 millions), plus dozens of options and related services listed in the contract, for a total value of approximately EUR 3 billions;

on February 26, two weeks before signing, a letter from the helicopter division chief Gian Piero Cutillo would offer Qatar: 16 H-125 training helicopters, which would have been paid for by Leonardo (not delivered yet) and manufactured by Airbus; 3 AW-109 helicopters for VVIP use, ie transport of important personalities, produced by Leonardo (already secretly delivered); the internal and external set up for VVIP ('very very important people); the provision of 2 pilots at Leonardo's expense in Europe; EUR 20,650,000 of expenses fund for Qatari students or free follow-up with costs of resident team and management and administration paid by Leonardo. Total value of the benefits equal to EUR 120 millions, as stated in an article in the 'Il Fatto Quotidiano' of January 8, 2020;

also from the same press article it is learned that, on January 26, 2018, after a meeting with the Italians, Brigadier General Mishwat Faisal Al Hajr, president of the committee for the acquisition of helicopters, would have asked Profumo to write a 'letter formal clear and direct in simple English without gray areas' which adheres to the conditions of the three pages attached. The 'list of confirmed benefits' (which did not include yet the 16 H-125 helicopters but the three AW-109s) would have been accepted by Cutillo by letter dated February 8;

subsequently, General Al Hajr would have asked that the letter had been signed by Profumo and 'not other people';

Profumo would have accepted, writing on February 12: 'We wish to sign the letter of intent on February 13 with the aim of signing the contract during the' Dimdex 2018 'if approved';

on February 18 General Al Hajri allegedly requested an 'update on the issue clearly established with Leonardo's CEO, Alessandro Profumo, during his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister-Defense Minister', reiterating the 'clear request of the 16 H-125';

on February 26 Cutillo would have written to Qatar that 'Leonardo accepts the supply of the 16 H-125 in the requested configuration', free of charge but without support and maintenance;

one year after the signing of the contract, on March 22, 2019, the head of the helicopter supplies division Fabio Castiglioni would have written that, in exchange for the commitment of the Qatari to close some controversial issues, he would have committed Leonardo to provide other benefits such as '8 instructors in Qatar, military or with a military background, if the customer agrees'. According to the questioners, an elegant way to say that Leonardo could have paid Italian soldiers to send to Doha to train the Qataris for them free of charge or to employ civilian pilots as needed. Castiglioni also promised courses, flight manuals, three years of support and maintenance of the AW-109 from the end of 2019 and even two 1:10 scale models of the NH-90 'for Qatar National Day';

considering that, according to the questioners, Leonardo would have replied to 'Il Fatto Quotidiano' claiming: 'The NH-90 Qatar contract represents one of Leonardo's greatest successes in the helicopter sector, also for the role assumed as prime-contractor of the major helicopter program developed in Europe'. The benefits for Leonardo would be 'practice for government contracts of this type'. Also because 'the 16 H-125 helicopters produced by Airbus represent a minimum quota compared to the core component of the 28 NH-90 based program'. Adding: 'Leonardo's share is greater than 40%' on 3 billions in total, swearing that 'the program is certainly profitable for the company, even in the long term'. As regards the failure to communicate about the benefits, this would be due to the 'necessary and customary compliance with the principle of confidentiality defined at contractual level upon the customer's request also for obvious security reasons',

asked to know:

whether the addressing minister is aware of this matter;

if you do not believe that the practice of providing such large benefits does not represent a form of corruption;

if there are other orders obtained by Leonardo around the world with the same scheme linked to the benefits, and which ones;

whether it deems to take appropriate measures to end this practice and to sanction those responsible for the events that characterized this sale of helicopters to Qatar". (4-02733)

Corrado Margherita, Leone Cinzia, Lomuti Arnaldo, Pavanelli Emma, Mininno Cataldo, Auddino Giuseppe, Croatti Marco, Botto Elena, Matrisciano Susy, Dell'Olio Gianmauro, Pesco Daniele, Romano Iunio Valerio.

See by AVIONEWS 1 and 2.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency