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Rafale Deal: BJP Dismisses French Report Alleging 'middleman' Payment, Calls It 'baseless'

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday dismissed French report alleging that a middleman was paid 1 mn Euros by Dassault aviation, terms it baseless

PTI

PTI


Countering the Congress' demand for a probe into the Rafale deal, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday dismissed the French report alleging that a middleman was paid 1 million Euros by Dassault aviation, terming it 'baseless' and may be due to "corporate rivalry" in France. Reminding Congress that the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to the Rafale Deal, Prasad said that Congress had lost Lok Sabha elections after raising the issue repeatedly. Pointing out that several Congress names had come up in the VVIP chopper scam, he said that the alleged middleman Sushen Gupta has been arrested by ED in 2019.

Centre: Rafale deal report 'completely baseless'

Addressing a press conference, Prasad termed the allegations "completely baseless" and suggested that a report in the French media about the alleged financial irregularity in the deal may be due to "corporate rivalry" in that country. He added, "The Congress is raising the Rafale issue again. It lost in the Supreme Court. They campaigned in the 2019 polls on the Rafale issue, threw all kinds of abuses at the prime minister and still lost. How many seats did it get?". He noted that Sushen Gupta, the middleman whose name has cropped up in the French report on the Rafale deal, was arrested in the AgustaWestland case by the Enforcement Directorate in 2019. In this probe, the names of many Congress leaders had surfaced, Prasad said

Surjewala: 'Will the PM answer?'

On Monday, Congress claimed that the Modi government was propagating 'crony capitalism',  by bypassing mandatory aspects of the 'Defence procurement procedure' in the Rafale Deal. Highlighting the French report by Mediapart.fr, which alleges that France's anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) suspects Dassault Aviation made payments to an India middleman who was arrested by Enforcement Directorate in 2019 in connection with the VVIP chopper scam, Congress asked PM Modi to answer the nation on these allegations. The Congress posed three questions based on the AFA's claims that Dassault Aviation paid 1.1 million Euro to middleman "Defsys solutions' which has been shown as 'Gifts to clients' which was explained as manufacturing of 50 models of Rafale by Dassault.

As per Mediapart.fr's report, AFA has found a suspicious payment of 1 million euros by Dassault Aviation to an Indian middleman Defsys Solutions for 50 models of Rafale aircraft which were to be given as “gifts" in 2016. The middleman is now accused of money laundering in India in the VVIP chopper scam. The report states that AFA had allegedly pulled up Dassault after no proof was provided for the manufacturing of these aircraft models yet, adding that AFA 'dropped' the matter citing that the “query was settled” after Rafale explained the process to it. Reports state that Defsys is contracted to carry out maintenance of Rafale simulators at both the Ambala base and the Hasimara base.

(With PTI Inputs)

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