Finmeccanica probe trail reaches Switzerland


Prosecutors from Naples were in Switzerland gathering evidence for a probe into Italian state-controlled aerospace and defence company Finmeccanica for allegedly setting up slush funds for bribes, judicial sources said.

Prosecutors Vincenzo Piscitelli and Francesco Curcio were being escorted by local authorities in Lugano, Switzerland, to collect evidence in an attempt to verify money flows through Swiss accounts, the sources said.

The sources would not give any further details or name any banks, Reuters reports.

The Swiss searches were connected to new developments in the investigation and followed statements made by the former head of institutional relations at Finmeccanica, Lorenzo Borgogni, who last spoke to prosecutors last week, according to the sources.

Finmeccanica was not available for comment.

Finmeccanica, 32 percent owned by the state, has been under investigation for some time for accusations that it created false invoices and slush funds to bribe politicians.

Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, who had been chairman and chief executive since 2002, stepped down in December amid the probe into the company, the second-largest Italian industrial group after car maker Fiat.

Concerns about the investigation have weighed on Finmeccanica shares.

The company, which last year booked a 2.3 billion euro ($3.0 billion) net loss due to heavy writedowns, is looking to sell assets for 1 billion euros this year to streamline its operations and avoid its rating being cut to junk.