A French non-governmental organisation has filed a complaint with the country’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office on the Rafale deal between India and France, French news organisation Mediapart reported on Friday.
Sherpa, the group which lodged the complaint in October, identifies itself as an organisation with the “mission to protect and defend victims of economic crimes drawing on the power of the law and to fight against the new forms of impunity linked to globalisation”.
In its complaint, the organisation said the deal may involve “potential acts of corruption, granting of undue advantages, influence peddling and money laundering” on part of France and Dassault.
« Tout indique qu’il peut s’agir d’une affaire d’une grande gravité », a commenté Me William Bourdon, le fondateur de Sherpa, joint par Mediapart, qui a précisé que « les éléments communiqués au Parquet national financier devraient conduire à l’ouverture d’une enquête au plus vite ». La plainte de l’ONG vise de « potentiels actes de corruption, octroi d’avantages indus, trafic d’influence, complicité de ces infractions et blanchiment d’argent » par la France et la société Dassault.
“Everything indicates that it may be a matter of great seriousness,” commented William Bourdon, the founder of Sherpa, who said that “the elements communicated to the national financial Parquet should lead to the opening of an investigation as soon as possible”. The complaint of the NGO aims at “potential acts of corruption, granting of undue advantages, influence peddling, complicity of these offences and money laundering” by France and the company Dassault.
This comes more than a week after the Supreme Court of India reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the government’s procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation.
The Congress has accused the government of overpaying for the fighter aircraft and claimed that the deal has benefitted businessman Anil Ambani. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s allegations were bolstered by former French President Francois Hollande’s claim in September that the Indian government had proposed the name of Ambani’s Reliance Defence for the offset obligations in the deal. The government has refused to reveal the per-plane price that it has negotiated in the deal, citing a secrecy agreement with France.
In an affidavit submitted in the court, the Indian government has said that the procurement process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2013, had been followed while finalising the deal. Dassault’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Trappier has repeatedly claimed that his company had chosen Ambani’s Reliance Defence to be one of its offset partners and the Indian government had not the dictated the choice.