Updated: April 13, 2019 7:54:41 pm
Alleging that Narendra Modi acted as a “middleman” for Anil Ambani, Congress on Saturday got fresh fodder to attack the Prime Minister over the Rafale issue after French newspaper Le Monde reported that authorities waived off taxes worth 143.7 million euros in favour of Ambani’s telecom firm ‘Reliance Atlantic Flag France’.
The taxes, according to the report, were waived a few months after PM Modi announced the deal to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation.
“PM Modi is acting as middle man for Anil Ambani. How many other companies in France have got a tax benefit? Is this not a quid pro quo for the purchase of aircraft? It is clear ek hi chowkidar chor hai (Only one watchman is the thief),” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Citing the Le Monde report, Surjewala said layers of corruption and money trail have been unveiled in Rafale saga and cited a timeline of events to buttress his claim.
“On March 23, 2015, Anil Ambani met French defence officials. Till then the contract to build 128 Rafale was with HAL. On April 10, 2015, PM Modi discards the old Rafale deal and announces a new deal worth €7.8billion,” Surjewala said.
The Congress leader said after PM Modi announced the new Rafale deal, France cancelled the tax recovery worth 143.7 million euros of a company belonging to Anil Ambani.
“Between 2007-2010, France demands tax from Reliance Flag Atlantic France worth € 60mn. Later between 2010-12, €51mn additional tax was levied on the company. On September 21, 2018, Francois Hollande states that he was given no choice by PM Modi but to choose Anil Ambani’s company (as offset partner),” Surjewala said.
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group is the “key partner” for Dassault Aviation for the discharge of offsets. The total value of offsets from the deal is estimated to be around Rs 30,000 crore.
Ambani’s Reliance group said in a statement that it “denies any favouritism or gain from settlement. Reliance Flag settled disputes as per legal framework in France available to all companies operating in France”.
Surjewala further claimed that in 2017-18, Dassault Aviation deposited Rs 284 crore in the bank account of an inactive company Reliance Airport Developer’s Ltd. “This took place when the government of India was making advance payments to Dassault Aviation,” he said.
The Defence Ministry said the connection drawn between tax waiver by France to Anil Ambani’s company and the Rafale deal was “inaccurate”, “tendentious” and a “mischievous attempt to spread disinformation”.
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