Political Economy

Rafale and MMRCA Tender: Dassault Aviation Used 'False' Invoices to Pay Middleman, Says Report

According to Mediapart, the CBI received a set of documents, which included the ‘fake invoices’, from the attorney-general's office in Mauritius on October 11, 2018.

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New Delhi: French investigative website Mediapart on Monday published a set of “fake invoices” that it claimed allowed aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay over seven million euros in kickbacks to influential defence middleman Sushen Gupta between 2007 and 2012.

Gupta is currently the subject of a money laundering investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the VVIP chopper scam.

Reports published by Mediapart earlier this year exposed Gupta’s deep business connections to Dassault and Thales over a 15-year period, which allegedly involved paying him “several million euros in secret commissions to offshore accounts and shell companies” using inflated invoices for software consulting.

On Monday, the French website reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation has since October 2018 had “proof” that Dassault “paid at least 7.5 million euros (equivalent to just under 650 million rupees) in secret commissions” to Gupta.

“His [Gupta’s] Mauritian company Interstellar Technologies received at least 7.5 million euros from the French aviation firm between 2007 and 2012, thanks to IT contracts that were clearly overbilled, and from which most of the money was discreetly sent to Mauritius using a system of alleged false invoices. Some of these invoices even got the name of the French company wrong, referring instead to ‘Dassult Aviation’,” the report said.

The bid process that took place between 2007 and 2012 was the initial MMRCA tender, which was won by Dassault.

According to Mediapart, the CBI received a set of documents, which included the ‘fake invoices’, from the attorney-general’s office in Mauritius on October 11, 2018. This was just one week after the investigative agency received an official complaint over corruption relating to the Rafale deal from Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.

“It is true that the corruption complaint and the information from Mauritius concerned different aspects of the case… Even so, the accumulation of suspicions, which cover the entire purchase procedure, should have led to the opening of an investigation. Was the case dropped for political reasons? Neither the Central Bureau of Investigations nor the Enforcement Directorate responded to Mediapart’s questions on this,” the report noted.