outlookindia, 03 July 2021
New Delhi, Jul 3 (PTI) A French judge has been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into “suspected corruption” and “favouritism” in the Rs 59,000 crore inter-governmental deal with India for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets, French investigative website Mediapart reported.
It said the probe, ordered by France”s national financial prosecutor”s office, is the result of a series of investigative reports into the contract published in April by Mediapart besides a complaint into the allegations by anti-corruption NGO Sherpa.
The report said the judicial investigation was ordered by France”s national financial prosecutor”s office (PNF) following Mediapart”s fresh reports in April of alleged wrongdoings in the deal as well as a complaint filed by French NGO Sherpa that specialises in financial crime.
“A French judge has been appointed to lead a judicial investigation into suspected ”corruption” and ”favouritism” over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India of 36 Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter aircraft,” Mediapart said.
“The highly sensitive probe into the inter-governmental deal signed off in 2016 was formally opened on June 14th,” it added.
Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation and India”s defence ministry previously trashed allegations of any corruption in the contract. India”s Supreme Court too in 2019 dismissed petitions seeking a probe into the deal saying there was no ground for it.
“The criminal investigation, opened on June 14th and led by an independent magistrate, an investigating judge, will, among other elements, examine questions surrounding the actions of former French president François Hollande, who was in office when the Rafale deal was inked, and current French president Emmanuel Macron, who was at the time Holllande”s economy and finance minister, as well as the then defence minister, now foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian,” Mediapart said.