National

As new revelations on Rafale deal emerge, Congress demands explanation

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 05, 2021

Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala   -  The Hindu

The Congress on Monday reiterated its demand for an independent probe into the Rafale deal following a new set of revelations in French news portal mediapart.fr, which cited French anti corruption agency (AFA) as the basis for existence of “middleman, payment of commission” and the red flags raised by the AFA against the deal.

The Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press conference that the purchase of 36 Rafale Jet fighters from Dassault Aviation is a “saga of loss to public exchequer”, “squandering of national interests”, propagating the “culture of crony capitalism” and “shrouded in secrecy” by negating the mandatory aspects of procurement prescribed in Defence Procurement Procedure.

He charged that the sensational revelations in mediapart.fr proved that the allegations of causing loss to public exchequer, bribery and payment of commission, earlier levelled by the Congress against Prime Minister Narendra Modi were correct. “It once again stares in the face of Modi Government,” Surjewala said.

He said the off-the-shelf deal to purchase Rafale jets was announced by Modi in April, 2015 during his official visit to France. “An investigation conducted by the AFA has now revealed that after signing of the deal in 2016, Dassault ie manufacturer of Rafale has paid €1.1 million to a middleman ie Defsys Solutions,” Surjewala claimed and added that this amount was shown as expenditure by Dassault as “Gifts to Clients”.

Norms flouted

He said the ₹60,000 crore deal also violated the Defence Procurement Procedure and the integrity clause. “There can be no middleman or payment of commission or bribe. Any evidence of middleman or commission or bribery has serious penal consequences of banning of the supplier defence company, cancellation of contract, registration of FIR and imposition of heavy financial penalties on the defence supplier company,” he said.

Citing the French media’s reports he said Dassault had failed to respond to AFA’s questions why did it ask an Indian company to make models of its own aircrafts and that also at €20,000 per piece. He said the AFA also asked why was the expenditure of €1.1 million was entered as “Gifts to Clients” and asked whether these models were ever made. “Reportedly, no reply was ever submitted to the satisfaction of French AFA by Dassault pointing towards a hidden financial transaction,” Surjewala said.

‘No answers yet’

The Congress asked the Prime Minister to explain whether the ‘Gifts to Clients’ were in reality a commission paid to middleman for the Rafale Deal. “How can “middleman” and “payment of commission” be permitted in a government-to-government defence contract or in any defence procurement in India in violation of the mandatory Defence Procurement Procedure? Has it not vitiated the Rafale deal entailing imposition of heavy financial penalties on Dassault, banning of the company, registration of an FIR and other penal consequences?,” he asked.

Published on April 05, 2021

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