This article is from Jul 04, 2021

France begins criminal investigation on alleged Rafale scam. Judicial enquiry in place !

The French government has appointed a judge to investigate allegations of corruption in the Rafale Agreement between India and France.

France and India signed an agreement worth about Rs 60,000 crore to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets manufactured by the French defense team Dassault. This 2016 dealing has always been surrounded with several criminal allegations. As of now ,22 fighter jets have been handed over to India and by 2022 all 36 jets will reach India according to Dassault.

In this context,including that several crores had been transferred through intermediaries, multiple allegations were made against the Rafale deal by the French intelligence news agency Mediapart in its investigative report which came out in April 2021. Further, the report said that the Directorate of Enforcement of India was already aware of these revelations but was not investigating.

Following this, the French anti-corruption NGO Sherpa filed a complaint with the Paris Tribunal citing “corruption”, “misuse of influence”, “money laundering”, “favoritism” and unnecessary tax breaks surrounding the agreement. Subsequently, France’s Public Prosecution Service (PNF) has officially launched an investigation into the Rafale deal on June 14.

The criminal investigation will examine questions surrounding the actions of former French President François Hollande, who was in office at the time of the signing of the Rafale Agreement, and the current French President, Emmanuel Macron, who was the Minister of Economy and Finance during that time.

Adding to that, the inquiry may also focus on Anil Ambani’s Reliance group considering the key role played by them in the dealing for the 36 aircraft. Ambani’s Reliance Group is the Indian partner of Dassault.

According to documents released by Media Part, Dassault and Reliance Defense first entered into a basic agreement (Memorandum of Understanding – MOU) for their joint venture on May 26, 2015.

In the purchase of the Rafale jets, the first and original contract that India signed was not the purchase of 36 aircraft but the purchase of 126 aircraft from Dassault. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has partnered an agreement with Dassault on behalf of India to execute this purchase.

Then, suddenly, 126 aircraft were reduced to 36 and Reliance Defense was contracted to replace Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Dassault and Anil Ambani’s Reliance signed their first MOU agreement for their joint venture on May 26, 2015 which is just 15 days before Prime Minister Modi announced the reduced purchase of 36 aircrafts.

Now,a French judge has been appointed to oversee the judicial inquiry into the Rafale deal, which has been the subject of controversy since its inception.

While the Congress party has demanded that the only way to find out the truth about the “corruption” in the purchase of warplanes is to form a Joint parliamentary committee to set up an inquiry into the Rafale deal, the Government of India has so far refrained to be silent on this matter.

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