Former UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon who was AgustaWestland's international director, has announced his intention to leave the company.
In an email to media contacts Monday, Hoon said, “After almost six years of working with AgustaWestland, now is the right time for me to move on to new challenges.”
“After a pursuing a career in Universities, the Law, Parliament and the British Government, I accepted the invitation to join AgustaWestland because I wanted to work for a British manufacturing company. I am grateful to the very many colleagues who made this possible and who assisted me in my efforts to sell helicopters around the world,” Hoon said.
Hoon had joined the controversial company during a period when it was embroiled in bribery scandals in India and South Korea.
In an exclusive video interview with Defenseworld.net in February 2013, at the Aero India show in Bangalore, Hoon stated that the allegations of bribery in the Indian VVIP helicopter scandal “were just that, allegations.” He claimed that everything had been checked out and that there was no truth in it (that bribes had been paid to secure the contract). This just a fortnight after Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi, was arrested by Italian police for alleged payoffs. Before Orsi became Finmeccanica head he was the chief of AgustaWestland and was succeeded by Bruno Spagnolini, who is a co-accused in the case.
Hoon appeared as a witness before the Italian court where he answered questions concerning the procurement process in India and denied charges of bribery.
The company has had notable successes during this period, in particular winning major orders in the United Kingdom, South Korea and Norway, against determined and well supported opponents, in what were highly demanding competitions, the company said in a statement Monday.
Other that the Indian scandal, AgustaWestland was caught in a bribery involving helicopter sales to Algeria. Italian tax police had issued a statement in April 2015 about raids at several places in Italy concerned the alleged creation of slush funds and fake invoices by former AgustaWestland managers to help it win a contract to supply helicopters to the Algerian government in 2009-2011. This was the time when the Orsi- Spagnolini duo controlled Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland.
Hoon, in his capacity as Managing Director, International had given a glowing speech about the AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopters in September 2015. Soon after that the South Korean government launched an investigation into the sale of 12 AW159 Lynx Wildcat choppers ordered for US$1.19 billion.
“It has been a privilege to work with colleagues who shared my vision of the company as an integrated multi-national business working closely with each of its host countries,” Hoon said in a statement.