ROME — The CEO of Leonardo, Alessandro Profumo, has been found guilty by an Italian court for committing fraud in 2015 when he was at the helm of a major Italian bank, but he will keep his job, according to the company.
Profumo was given a six-year jail sentence Thursday for fraud related to when he was CEO of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, a position he held before he was appointed to run the Italian defense company Leonardo in 2017.
Italian jail sentences only become effective after cases are heard by an appeals court and then by Italy’s Supreme Court — a process that can take years.
In the meantime, Leonardo said it is standing by Profumo. “The Company would like to make clear that the conditions do not exist for the cessation of his role as Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo. The Company expresses its full confidence in the actions of Mr. Profumo and wishes for his continuation in the role,” the firm said in a statement.
The court found Profumo guilty of market rigging and false accounting at the bank in the first half of 2015. In addition to the jail term, he was handed a €2.5 million (U.S. $2.9 million) fine and prohibited from managing a company for two years.
Sources on Profumo’s defense team told Italian news agency Radiocor he would likely be able to carry on as Leonardo CEO since the sentence was not final.
“We shall read carefully the reasons [for the verdict] and shall appeal the sentence, which we find to be erroneous,” said lawyer Adriano Raffaelli.
Profumo is now the fourth Leonardo CEO in recent years to be involved in a trial or police investigation.
His predecessor, Mauro Moretti, hoped to win a second mandate at the state-controlled firm in 2017, but his chances dimmed after he was given a seven-year sentence that year over a deadly rail crash, which occurred while he was head of Italy’s railway network eight years earlier in 2009. His sentence was confirmed on appeal in 2019, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear his case for a final ruling this year.
Giuseppe Orsi, who ran Leonardo from 2011 to 2013 when the firm was called Finmeccanica, was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of paying bribes to the former Indian Air Force chief to buy 12 AW101 helicopters in a €560 million deal. Following the arrest, India canceled the contract.
After the case wound its way through the Italian courts, Orsi was given a final and definitive acquittal by Italy’s Supreme Court last year.
In 2011, Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini resigned his post as chairman of Finmeccanica while under the shadow of a corruption probe, only for the investigation to be dropped a year later.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.