New Delhi: French aerospace major Dassault Aviation on Thursday rejected fresh allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal with India, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract, days after French online journal Mediapart alleged that the jet manufacturer had paid nearly one million Euros to an Indian middleman.
According to the French media, the report was based on an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA).
Rejecting the allegations, a Dassault Aviation spokesperson said, “numerous controls are carried out by official organisations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales.”
The spokesperson said Dassault Aviation, since the early 2000s, has “implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations”.
The French media report said that Dassault claimed the money was paid for 50 replicas of Rafale jets and the order was given to an Indian defence company.
It also mentioned that the inspectors of the AFA were given no proof that these models were made. Following the allegations, the Indian company on Tuesday released a statement and tax invoices stating that the allegations were totally unfounded.
The Dassault official said the company reiterated that it acts in strict compliance with the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) anti-bribery convention and national laws, in particular the Sapin 2 law.
Under the Sapin 2 law that came into force in 2017, French companies are required to implement a specific internal compliance programme to fight corruption.
“In the context of the Sapin 2 law, the company has completed and strengthened its system for the prevention and detection of corruption and influence peddling, both at the level of the parent company and its subsidiaries,” the official said.
The company also noted that the Rafale deal was based on a government-to-government framework.
“This contract, as well as the offsets corresponding contract, meet the criteria established by these regulations and are being executed in full transparency between the various government and industrial partners,” the spokesperson added.
The company has delivered 14 Rafale jets to the Indian Air Force so far.
The official said aircraft were delivered in respect of the schedule, despite the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Dassault Aviation and the Reliance Group established the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint venture in 2017 and built a plant in Nagpur that has been producing numerous Falcon parts and pieces since 2018,” the official said.
“Dassault Aviation and its partners are working with 60 companies in India and negotiations are underway to establish potential new cooperations,” the official noted.
The NDA government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.
Prior to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Congress raised several questions about the deal, including on rates of the aircraft, and alleged corruption but the government rejected all the charges.