In France, Corruption Complaint over Rafale Deal Lodged With National Financial Prosecutor’s Office

Sherpa, a French legal NGO, has filed a complaint alleging potential acts of corruption and wanting clarifications on the conditions under which India procured 36 Rafale aircraft and Reliance was chosen as an offset partner.

New Delhi: A French legal organisation that examines illicit financial flows has filed a corruption complaint over the controversial Rafale deal with France’s national financial prosecutor’s office, according to a report published in Mediapart on Friday.

According to the report, Sherpa, a French law association that describes itself as an organisation aimed at protecting and defending “victims of economic crimes”, lodged a complaint at the end of October with the prosecutor’s office.

The complaint is aimed at clarifying the “condition under which 36 combat aircraft produced by Dassault Aviation were sold to India in 2016” and the “choice of its Indian partner, Reliance”.

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Sherpa’s complaint wants the government agency to look at “potential acts of corruption, granting of undue advantages, influence peddling, complicity of these offences and money laundering” by France and Dassault Aviation.

“Everything indicates that it may be a matter of great seriousness,”  William Bourdon, the founder of Sherpa, is quoted as saying in the Mediapart report.

“The elements communicated to the national financial Parquet should lead to the opening of an investigation as soon as possible,” Bourdon added.

Since the start of the year, the Rafale deal has been a source of political and legal controversy in India, with the Congress party alleging that the decision to purchase 36 aircraft was tweaked to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.

Also Read: No, Rafale is Not Bofors, and That’s Why Modi Should Be Worried

In October 2018, former BJP union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan moved the Central Bureau of Investigation with a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

The complaint alleges the process to acquire the Rafale aircraft was accompanied by an abuse of authority that is prosecutable under the Prevention of Corruption Act.