Friday, June 18, 2021

Congress reignites Rafale deal issue after fresh media claims in France of bribery

The Congress on Monday demanded an independent probe into the Rs 60,000 crore Rafale jet deal after a section of the French media citing the national anti-graft agency claimed 1 million Euro commissions in the same.

Addressing reporters here, Congress media head Randeep Surjewala also asked the government whether or not it was in order that a ban be placed on Rafale makers Dassault for paying bribes and also a case registered.

“India’s biggest defence deal of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France’s Dassault Aviation is a sordid saga of loss to public exchequer, squandering of national interests and violation of Defence Procurement Procedure. The devastating sensational revelations in the last evening report of French News portal Mediapart.fr have now revealed the existence of middleman, payment of commission and red flags raised by the French Anti-Corruption Agency – AFA.”

“Dassault balance sheet said the money was a gift to the client. But when confronted, Dassault told the French anti-corruption agency that it paid an Indian firm that was engaged to prepare 59 models of Rafale. No answers were forthcoming when the French officials asked Dassault why would it engage an Indian firm to make models when it was manufacturing the jet itself?”

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Noting that ​Defsys Solutions, India, is actually a company undertaking assembly of flight simulators and optical and electronic systems, Surjewala asked the PM whether he would invoke integrity clause of the DPP to black list Rafale as provided by the rules.

“Defence Procurement Procedure as also the stated Indian government policy envisages that there will be an ‘Integrity Clause’ in every defence purchase contract. There can be no middleman or payment of commission or bribe. Any evidence of middleman or commission or bribery has serious penal consequences of banning of the supplier defence company, cancellation of contract, registration of FIR and imposition of heavy financial penalties on the defence supplier company. Will this happen now?” asked Congress.

10th April, 2015 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft off the shelf during his visit to France.

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23rd September, 2016 – Modi government signs a formal agreement with France to buy 36 Rafale aircraft for US$ 8.7 billion or €7.8 billion, i.e., Rs 60,000 crore.

​Amount shown as expenditure by Dassault as “gifts to clients”.

30th March, 2017: Dassault tells French anti-corruption agency that this was payment for manufacture of 50 models of Rafale.

AFA asked Dassault – (a) Why it asked an Indian company to make models of its own aircrafts and that also at €20,000 per piece?

(c) Were these models ever made? If yes, where and when were they displayed?

Reportedly, no reply came.

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