The Rafale jet fighter deal continues to backfire. The latest in the saga is the accusation that the 2016 deal between India and France also involved the payment of 1.1 million Euros by aviation major Dassault to an Indian middleman. Any such payment would be a violation of the mandatory Defence Procurement Procedure laid down by the Union Ministry of Defence.
The French publication "Mediapart" has sourced its claim in an investigation undertaken by the country's anti-corruption agency, the AFA, which made the initial findings during an audit of Dassault.
What raised eyebrows during the audit was a payment of 1.1 million Euros which the company said was used to pay for the manufacture of 50 large replica models of Rafale jets. What is befuddling is that there is no proof that these models were made, Mediapart claims. Also, there is a mystifying question: Why had Dassault ordered an Indian company to make models of its own aircraft at 20,000 Euros a plane? Why was this expenditure entered in the accounts as 'a gift to client'? And were these models, each one of which was supposed to be the size of a small car, really ever made?"
According to Mediapart, "Dassault was unable to provide the AFA with a single document showing that these models existed and were delivered, and not even a photograph. The inspectors thus suspected that this was a bogus purchase designed to hide hidden financial transactions".
Incidentally, the 50 replicas were ordered from a Defence Company whose owner Sushen Gupta is being investigated in the Agusta-Westland helicopter scam.
The Congress party lost no time in attacking PM Modi over the claim that a middleman was paid acommissionin theRafaledealby Dassault, euphemistically described by the French company as "gifts to clients."Its general secretary and chief spokesman R S Surjewala told a press conference that PM Modi must himself answer the queries as he had personally handled thedeal. Only he can shed light on whether the payment of €1.1million was really a commission paid to the middleman who are not allowed in the defence deals.
The Congress proposes to move the Supreme Court for a probe into the admission by Dassault that the payments were made by it as a "gift" in return for India signing adealto buy the 36 fighter jets from the company, he said.
He said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated on his charge of corruption in theRafaledealfrom day one. Demanding an independent probe, he said: "How can “Middleman” and “Payment ofCommission” be permitted in a ‘Government to Government Defence Contract” or in any Defencedealin India - a violation of the mandatory Defence Procurement Procedure?"
"Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India's biggest defencedealto find out as to how much bribery orcommissionor both have been paid in reality, if any, and paid to whom in the Indian government," Surjewala asked