Skip to content

a French judge charged with investigating

Five years after the sale of 36 Rafale planes to India, the NGO Sherpa obtained from the French justice the referral to an investigating judge to investigate suspicions of corruption on this contract dating from September 2016 for an amount of 7.8 billion euros.

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) the information published Friday by Mediapart according to which it had taken on June 14 an introductory indictment seizing an examining magistrate of this file which has given rise for several years the turmoil in India.

The NGO denounced in particular the choice of Reliance, Indian partner of Dassault in this sale and company of a businessman close to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Dassault won a tender in 2012 to supply 126 planes and has since been negotiating with Indian aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

Negotiations concluded “95%” in March 2015, according to Dassault. But the following month, after an official visit to France by Mr Modi, negotiations broke down to everyone’s surprise. Reliance Group, a private company with no experience in the aeronautical industry, had then imposed itself to the detriment of HAL to sign a new contract, relating to the delivery of 36 aircraft.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers The Indian army takes possession of its first Rafale

In January 2016, at the time of the final negotiations, Reliance Group had financed a film co-produced by Julie Gayet, companion of the president at the time, François Hollande. Sherpa suspects a possible ” Bribery “. What the former head of state defended himself, saying that France had no “didn’t have a choice” of Dassault’s Indian partner, arousing a number of reactions in India.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, current French Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Defense of the Socialist President, had hammered home that Paris had not suffered “no pressure” from New Delhi.

In April 2019, The world also revealed that France had canceled in 2015 a tax adjustment totaling 143.7 million euros targeting a French company belonging to Reliance Group, at the very time when this sale was being negotiated.

A close collaborator of Anil Ambani, boss of Reliance, had boasted to the newspaper of having met, with the Indian businessman, Emmanuel Macron in his office as Minister of the Economy at the beginning of the year. 2015 to settle the tax dispute there.

The PNF dismissed Sherpa’s first denunciation in June 2019 without opening a preliminary investigation.

Read the survey: Article reserved for our subscribers How France erased the tax debt of an Indian industrialist associated with Dassault

But in April, Mediapart accused in a series of articles this prosecutor’s office specializing in the fight against financial offenses and the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) of having ” buried “ the suspicions surrounding this controversial sale. According to the news site, the former head of the PNF Eliane Houlette refused to investigate this major aeronautical sale, against the advice of his deputy.

“This case has been dismissed for lack of infringement”, replied the PNF, while the AFA did not wish to react. Mediapart also mentioned “millions of euros in kickbacks” paid to an intermediary suspected of having helped Dassault to conclude the sale, of which ” a part (…) could have been paid in the form of bribes” to Indian officials.

Dassault replied that“no offense has[vait] been reported” as part of the controls to which the group is subject.

Following these articles, Sherpa therefore filed a complaint on April 22 with a civil action in Paris for suspicions of ” corruption “ and “active and passive influence peddling”concealment and laundering of these crimes, as well as “concussion” and “concealment of favoritism”.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Rafale case sold to India: new complaint for corruption in order to obtain an investigation

Taking note of this complaint, which allows the quasi-automatic appointment of an investigating judge, the PNF took an introductory indictment on June 14 opening this judicial investigation on the qualifications “targeted by the complaint of the Sherpa association”.

Despite its classification in June 2019 of the association’s report, the PNF therefore does not oppose its new request. It is now up to the examining magistrate seized to launch the investigations or to take an order to signify his refusal to tackle it.

“It is an important first step towards the manifestation of the truth in a file which already presents all the appearances of a State scandal”reacted to AFP Friday evening the lawyers of Sherpa William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth.

The World with AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.