NEW DELHI: A Judge in France has opened criminal investigation into the charges of “corruption and favouritism”in the Rafale deal signed with India in 2016 for the sale of 36 Dassault-built fighter jets.
Indian media quoted French publication Mediapart as having said that the criminal investigation would be led by an independent magistrate “who will, among other elements, examine questions surrounding the actions of former French president François Hollande”.
It may be recalled that in November 2018, similar reports had surfaced alleging that after the Rafale deal, Dassault Investment in Inactive Anil Ambani company gave Reliance Rs 284 Crore Profit, and that the the French firm had paid nearly 40 million euros for a 35% stake in an obscure Reliance company
Former French president Hollande was in office when the Rafale deal was inked, and current French president Emmanuel Macron was Hollande’s economy and finance minister.
The financial crimes branch of the French public prosecution services (PNF) has said that the investigation will look into allegations of corruption and favouritism in the pact for 36 fighter planes between the Indian government and French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
According to Indian media reports, the move by the French authorities came after a series of investigations done by Mediapart and a subsequent complaint filed by the French NGO Sherpa. A similar complaint filed earlier by Sherpa was rejected by the PNF in 2018.
Mediapart had carried a series of reports on alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal in April 2021. In one of the reports, Mediapart claimed that the former head of PNF Éliane Houlette shelved an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale deal despite the objection of colleagues.
Dassault aviation has not reacted to the developments.