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Dassault paid €7.5 million to middleman for Rafale deal: Report

The new claims in the report will once again give ammunition to the Opposition
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 08 November 2021, 11:24 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2021, 11:24 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2021, 11:24 IST
Last Updated : 08 November 2021, 11:24 IST

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French plane-maker Dassault paid "at least €7.5 million" as "secret commission" to a middleman, who is also allegedly involved in the controversial AgustaWestland case, to secure the sale of 36 fighter jets to India but Indian investigation agencies the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) "did not pursue" the lead despite having documents, a portal Mediapart has reported.

The new claims in the report will once again give ammunition to the Opposition, particularly the Congress and its former president Rahul Gandhi who have been alleging corruption in the deal, to revive the case.

Publishing what it called "alleged false invoices" that enabled Dassault to pay the middleman, it claimed, "despite the existence of these documents, the Indian federal police has decided not to pursue the affair and has not begun an investigation." The payment involved "offshore companies, dubious contracts and 'false' invoices," it added.

According to the Mediapart report, the CBI and the ED have had proof since 11 October, 2018 when it received documents from Mauritius that Dassault paid 7.5 million Euros in "secret commissions to middlemen Sushen Gupta" in the context of the French company's "long and ultimately successful attempt" to secure the 7.8 billion Euro deal.

The documents were received by the CBI a week after a complaint was filed on the "suspicious activity that took place from 2015" with regard to the deal. "However, the CBI decided not to open an investigation, even though just seven days after that corruption complaint was filed it received information proving that secret commission had indeed been paid," it said.

While a set of documents showed that Gupta received the "secret commission" between 2007 and 2012 when the Congress-led UPA government was in power, the report also said, "other documents obtained by Indian detectives show that in 2015, during the final negotiations of the Rafale contract, Sushen Gupta got hold of confidential documents from India's Ministry of Defence detailing the stance of the Indian negotiators, in particular how they calculated the price of the aircraft."

The report said the evidence is contained in the confidential documents unearthed by the Indian investigators in the VVIP chopper scam involving AgustaWestland. Mediapart said it is in possession of over 12,000 pages of documents that came out of the CBI probe. DH has not independently verified the authenticity of the documents mentioned.

Citing the documents, the report said Dassault gave Interstellar Technologies, a Mauritian company owned by Gupta, 7.5 million Euros between 2007 and 2012, "thanks to IT contracts that were clearly over-billed, and from which most of the money was discreetly sent to Mauritius using a system of alleged false invoices".

Mediapart claimed some of the invoices "even got" the name of the French company wrong, referring instead to "Dassult Aviation".

Gupta's alleged involvement came to light during the investigation into the AgustaWestland case in which investigators claimed he received a "secret commission" from the Italian company via a "letter box or shell company registered in Mauritius, Interstellar technologies Ltd". Mauritius had earlier agreed to send "numerous documents" relating to Gupta's company, which included contracts, invoices and bank statements.

The report also claimed that one of the documents in possession of the ED showed Gupta suggesting that he had handed over money to some Indian officials on Dassault's behalf. "The risk is taken, you have an agent we have paid, now make sure it is legal, clean and defendable. (...) No money, no decisions (...) People sitting in offices asking for money. (...) Those people will, if we don't pay, put us in Jail," the report cites a communication Gupta is claimed to have sent to Dassault in September 2012.

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Published 08 November 2021, 11:09 IST

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