Mediapart, a French on-line journal, claimed within the third a part of its Rafale story on Thursday that it was in possession of paperwork that confirmed Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the Rafale jet, and its industrial accomplice Thales, a defence electronics agency, paid “middleman” Sushen Gupta a number of million euros in “secret commissions” in reference to the 59,000 crore deal for 36 jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In the third and last a part of its investigation into the Rafale deal, the journal claimed that the funds to Gupta have been channelled by offshore accounts and shell firms, utilizing inflated invoices for software program consulting. Gupta’s title figures within the AgustaWestland cost sheet.

According to the journal, the majority of the funds have been made earlier than 2013. “According to an accounts spreadsheet belonging to Sushen Gupta, an entity called simply “D”, which is a code he recurrently used to designate Dassault, paid 14.6 million euros to Interdev in Singapore over the interval 2004-2013,” the report mentioned. It mentioned Interdev was a shell firm with no actual exercise, and administered by a straw man for the Gupta household.

The report mentioned in response to one other accounts spreadsheet belonging to Gupta, which solely covers the years 2004 to 2008, Thales paid 2.four million euros to a different shell firm.

Numerous controls are carried out by official organisations, together with the French anti-corruption company, and no violations have been reported, notably within the framework of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales, Dassault mentioned in an announcement on Thursday, including that the aircraft maker acts in strict compliance with legal guidelines.

“Since the early 2000s, Dassault Aviation has implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations. In the context of the Sapin 2 law (anti-corruption law), the company has completed and strengthened its system for the prevention and detection of corruption and influence peddling, both at the level of the parent company and its subsidiaries,” the assertion mentioned.

Thales didn’t reply to an HT question on the Mediapart report. The Enforcement Directorate additionally didn’t touch upon the revelations. HT’s queries to Gupta didn’t elicit a response until the time of going to press.

The French web site claimed that Dassault and European missile-maker MBDA labored onerous to take away anti-corruption clauses from the Rafale fighter contract, which was subsequently signed by then French defence minister, now overseas minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“In July 2015, in an annexe to the contract concerning the weaponry of the jets, supplied by MBDA, the French side wrote into the text that the two anti-corruption clauses were “Not Applicable”. But the Indians deleted this and reintroduced the anti-corruption clauses,” in response to the journal. “Those anti-corruption clauses could have had costly consequences for the industrialists, for they allow for India to rip up the contract and/or to demand compensation not only if acts of corruption are discovered, but also if the seller paid an agent in order to ‘intercede, facilitate or in any way to recommend [the seller] to the Government of India or any of its functionaries’,” the report claimed.

François Hollande, who was French president between May 2012 and May 2017 mentioned he was “at no moment informed of these aspects of the negotiation”, and that he, subsequently, may “not have approved an eventual removal of these [anti-corruption] clauses,” the web site mentioned.

It mentioned it contacted MBDA, which replied that it “does not habitually comment on negotiations concerning contracts.”

Six months later (after July 2015), within the contract proposed on January 13, 2016 by the French staff, regarding Dassault’s provide of the plane, the 2 anti-corruption clauses have been once more marked “Not Applicable,” the journal mentioned. “According to a report in The Hindu, the Indian authorities finally approved the removal of the clauses in September 2016, just before the signing of the final contract, at a meeting presided by the Indian defence minister, Manohar Parrikar,” the journal reported.

Dassault and Thales paid rather a lot for Gupta’s know-how within the defence sector, Mediapart claimed. “They hired him at the beginning of the 2000s, at the very moment when India announced it was looking to buy 126 fighter jets. According to evidence from the ED’s case file, the two French firms paid him several million euros over the 15 years leading up to the signature of the contract,” it claimed. Gupta was investigated by Indian companies over his function within the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper rip-off.

ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are probing allegations of cash laundering within the 2007 contract for the acquisition of 12 luxurious VIP helicopters to be used by prime political leaders, together with the President, the Prime Minister, and former PMs.

The deal was cancelled in early 2014 over allegations of wrongdoing. Among the individuals named within the cost sheets filed by ED is Ratul Puri, the nephew of former Madhya Pradesh CM and senior Congress chief Kamal Nath.

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