French aircraft manufacturer Dassault paid an India middleman € 7.5 million (₹ 64.5 crore) in kickbacks to conclude the sale of Rafale fighter jets and the CBI failed to act despite having proof of the wrongdoing, claims investigative journal Mediapart.
Though the report says the alleged kickbacks happened between 2007-12 when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power, the Narendra Modi-led government which followed did not act when it came to know about the corruption in 2018.
The French journal has published alleged false invoices that it claims enabled Dassault to pay middleman Sushen Gupta and seal the Rs 59,000-crore deal with the Indian government. “Despite the existence of these documents, the Indian federal police (CBI) has decided not to pursue the affair and has not begun an investigation,” claims Mediapart.
The journal claims that both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had proof of the wrongdoing since October 2018, but did not act.
Mediapart has also accused Sushen Gupta of getting paid by AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian helicopter maker, through a shell company registered by the name Intersteller Technologies in Mauritius.
Sushen Gupta’s name cropped up after the Mauritius government sent some documents related to the shell company to CBI and ED, Mediapart said. Gupta also got possession of confidential documents that gave details of how India’s Ministry of Defence had decided to carry on the negotiations for the Rafale deal.
Mediapart contacted Dassault Aviation and Sushen Gupta, but they refused to comment.
Sushen Gupta’s lawyer told India Today: “Sushen Gupta or his companies are not involved in any manner in the Indo-French transaction for the acquisition of Rafale jets.”
Mediapart has been investigating alleged corruption in the Rafale deal for the last few months. In April, it had stated that Sushen Gupta received “several million Euros” from Dassault and its affiliates.
India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided to sign an $8.7 billion government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes made by Dassault. The deal was announced in April 2015, and the agreement was signed in 2017. The deal replaced the previous Manmohan Singh-led UPA government’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by the state-owned HAL.
The deal triggered controversy with Congress claiming that the price India agreed to pay for Rafale aircraft now stood at ₹1,670 crore for each, three times higher the priced UPA inked. There was more uproar when a Mediapart report claimed the Indian government had proposed the name of the Anil Ambani group as an offset partner.