The Rafale deal between India and France once again has raised questions of irregularities and non-adherence to the procedure after a French publication claimed in its report that more than one million Euros were given to an Indian middleman by Rafale manufacturing company Dassault Aviation.
French publication Mediaparts, which has been investigating the matter since the deal took place, found irregularities dating back to 2016. The publication claimed that 508,925 Euros were credited to a middleman named Sushen Gupta in India as “Gifts to Clients” in 2017.
France’s investigation journal Mediaparts, which also called the deal a ‘scandal’, stated that these funds were supposed to make 50 large replicas ‘models’ of Rafale combat aircraft but no such models were made.
How Corruption Case Unfolded?
France’s anti-corruption agency- Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA)- started an investigation after a wealth of evidence had suggested irregularities and corruption in the Rafale deal in 2018.
Mediaparts, which has seen all the documents related to audit reports of the Rafale deal, said in one of the third parts of an investigation that AFA discovered the fraud in the deal after France’s company transferred a huge amount of money to its Bengaluru-based subcontractor company namely Defsys Solutions Pvt. Ltd in India, owned by Sushen Mohan Gupta.
The report said that Defsys was paid 50% of an order worth 1,017,850 to make 50 dummy models of Rafale, each costing 20,357 Euros in 2017.
The deal between India and France was signed in 2016 during PM Modi’s Paris visit along with Indian businessmen, including Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani.
The report alleges that the AFA could not disclose the matter in the public domain due to political pressure.
Who Is Shusen Gupta?
Sushen Mohan Gupta is one of the high profile controversial businessmen in India, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the VVIP Augusta Westland chopper case in 2019. His company- Defsys Solutions plays the role of middleman in making Rafale Deal successful between both countries.
Mr Gupta, who has US citizenship, is on bail now.
Defies, which has three offices- Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Gurgram – said on its website that it provides advanced solutions for a variety of defence and aerospace applications.
Political Storm In India
The report came out amid the election fever in five states and opposition parties are wasting no chance to attack Modi-led BJP.
Congress has demanded a thorough probe in the case soon after the Mediaparts revealed the new allegations in the case. Congress spokesperson, during the press conference, asked the Modi government, “does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India’s biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission, in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been attacking the ruling government over the Rafale deal for a past long time, took a jibe at the centre and said that karma is the ledger of one’s action and no one can escape it.
Congress had made the Rafale deal a big issue and tried to corner BJP during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but could not succeed.
Meanwhile, the ruling government has dismissed the France journal’s report, saying that it’s “completely baseless”.
Responding to Congress’ probe question over the deal, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Supreme Court and CAG had rejected it and found no irregularities in the deal’.
The deal was replaced by the Modi government which the previous UPA government was supposed to buy 126 Rafale jets, 108 of which were to be made in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
Under the new deal, India will buy a total of 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault by the end of 2022, six of which have already been arrived in India.