A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft, French news website Mediapart reported.
In this latest of a series of investigations about the secret dealings behind the contract, Mediapart revealed how Dassault provided a remarkably generous financial gift to its local industrial partner Reliance Group, owned by Anil Ambani, a close friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In April this year, Mediapart had carried a series of investigative reports about the deal, including the role of a middleman whose disclosures India’s Enforcement Directorate is reportedly aware of but has not bothered to investigate so far. Following the exposé, the French anti-corruption NGO Sherpa filed a complaint with the tribunal of Paris, citing “corruption”, “influence peddling”, “money laundering”, “favouritism” and undue tax waivers surrounding the deal.
A French anti-corruption agency had reportedly raised red flags over a suspicious payment made by Dassault Aviation to an Indian defence company in 2017-18,