Dassault Aviation entered into an agreement with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as it was presented as a “trade off” to obtain the contract of Rafale sales, according to document accessed by French investigative website Mediapart.

The document shows that Dassault considered this alliance as a “counterpart”, “imperative and mandatory” to get into the Indian market. Dassault Aviation’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Loïk Segalen, made this clear during a presentation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace joint venture to staff representatives in Nagpur in May 2017, according to a report prepared by the staff.

Dassault Aviation, however, has refused to comment on the document.

Chez Dassault Aviation, selon un document obtenu par Mediapart, l’alliance avec Ambani a effectivement été présentée comme une « contrepartie » du contrat de vente des Rafale. Le directeur général délégué de Dassault Aviation, Loïk Segalen, l’a dit clairement le 11 mai 2017 lors d’une présentation de la joint-venture « Dassault Reliance Aerospace » de Nagpur aux élus du personnel : « Il était impératif et obligatoire pour Dassault Aviation, d’accepter cette contrepartie, afin d’obtenir le contrat export Rafale Inde », a déclaré le no 2 du groupe, selon un compte-rendu établi par les élus du personnel.

Contacté par Mediapart, le groupe Dassault s’est une nouvelle fois refusé à tout commentaire sur le dossier.

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At Dassault Aviation, according to a document obtained by Mediapart, the partnership with Ambani had effectively been presented like a”trade-off” for the Rafale contract. Dassault Aviation’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Loïk Segalen, said this clearly on May 11, 2017, during a presentation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace joint venture to staff representatives in Nagpur. “It was imperative and mandatory for Dassault Aviation to accept this trade off to obtain the contract to export Rafale to India”, said the number 2 (deputy CEO) of the group said, according to a report prepared by the staff. 

When contacted by Mediapart, the Dassault group again refused to comment on this document. 

On September 21, former French President Francois Hollande told Mediapart that India had given Dassault, which manufactures the jets, no choice but to work with Reliance Defence. Hollande claimed the Indian government had proposed Reliance’s name for the pact, which was agreed upon when he was president.

India’s Ministry of Defence denied the former French president’s claim while France said it is “in no manner” involved in choosing French companies’ industrial partners for projects in India. In a separate statement, Dassault Aviation said it had chosen Reliance Defence for the project.

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore. The Congress and several other leaders have accused the Narendra Modi government of getting an overpriced deal.

The Congress has also alleged that the government helped Ambani’s firm land a mega contract through the deal’s offset programme instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was scheduled to make the aircraft in India before the Bharatiya Janata Party government agreed to a new deal. The Centre has claimed that it had no role in the deal between Dassault Aviation and Reliance, a point that Ambani has also made.

Reliance Defence joined the offset programme in late 2016 through Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, a joint venture with the French company in which it holds a 51% stake.

The Congress has urged the Central Vigilance Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to investigate alleged irregularities in the deal.