French anti-corruption NGO Sherpa’s complaint to the French National Public Prosecutor seeking an investigation in the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal is “part of all items being analysed” by the prosecutor’s office.
Céline Clement Petreman, spokesperson for the National Public Prosecutor’s office, has said: “Sherpa sent a letter to the National Public Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) conveying information from the Indian press by drawing the attention of the PNF to this case.” The documents sent by Sherpa are “part of all items being analysed” in the Rafale deal, Petreman said.
The complaint against the French government and Dassault Aviation was filed late last month by Sherpa with PNF. It asked for “opening an early investigation into the seriousness of the facts and the presumptions of the commission of the offenses reported: potential acts of corruption, granting undue advantages, trading in influence, complicity in these offenses, receiving corruption and laundering”.
The deal for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was signed between India and France in September 2016, in which Anil Ambani’s Reliance group became one of the major offset partners of Dassault Aviation. Former French President Francois Hollande had told news portal Mediapart: “We did not have a say in that (in the choice of Ambani as an offset partner). We took the interlocutor that was given to us.”
The deal is also awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court on a petition seeking a CBI inquiry into the case. The judgment of the apex court is reserved.
“Cooperation between the two countries (France and India) should quickly take place, as it is always the case with regard to investigations relating to the great international corruption,” William Bourdon, founder of Sherpa, was quoted in a statement issued by the anti-corruption organisation.