Rafale spills over again; French journal reveals bogus invoices in the deal

French journal Mediapart has outed claims regarding the involvement of bogus invoices in Rafale deal

If you thought the Rafale hullabaloo has calmed down, think again. For, new claims have been made by a France-based investigative journal that fake invoices were involved in the French aircraft manufacturing company Dassault Aviation’s deal to pay close to 7.5 million euros by way of secret commissions to a middleman who helped the company close the deal with India.

Mediapart, the investigative journal, is believed to have caught hold of material that supported its claims of the alleged bogus invoices involved. The journal has claimed that Dassault Aviation paid the middleman sometime between the years 2007 and 2012, at a Mauritius location.

The journal, on Sunday, came out with a story that said it is publishing the alleged bogus invoices that aided Dassault to pay the secret commissions to a middleman to help secure the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India.

Significantly enough, the report also points fingers at the Indian investigative agencies who ignored the existence of the documents that elaborated on the kickbacks.

Kickbacks, bogus invoices, middleman

The report went on to add that the deal involved “offshore companies, dubious contracts and false invoices”. Pointing out that the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), and officers from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had proof of these documents that could have led to the information on kickbacks since October 2018.

It added that Dassault paid nearly Rs 650 million in rupee terms as secret commissions to a middleman named Sushen Gupta. The bogus invoices and kickbacks have been linked to Dassault’s attempts towards closing the 7.8 billion-euro-deal in 2016 to sell 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India.

The new revelations have now provided the BJP with a shot in the arm, and party leaders hit back at the Indian National Congress (INC) saying that the alleged kickbacks were paid when the UPA government was in power at the Centre. However, the Ministry of Defence is yet to react to the new report.

Amit Malviya, BJP’s National Information and Technology Department in charge, was at the forefront in attacking the Congress slamming the kickbacks saying that they happened during the UPA rule.

This is what he tweeted:

Rafale: The deal that shook the nation

Going back to where the Rafale mess began, it may be recalled that the NDA government at the Centre had signed an agreement with Dassault Aviation on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets. This came after efforts that ran up to seven long years by the previous UPA government to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force proved futile.

When the mess spilt over to media space, Congress charged the government with huge irregularities in the deal. The Congress had alleged that the government was buying each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government during the negotiations for the MMRCA. However, all charges were rubbished by the government.

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