Rahul Gandhi’s British citizenship has become a raging issue this election season. Rahul Gandhi had signed documents of a British company, Backops, in which he owned the majority shares of 65%, as a British citizen. The Home Ministry had sent Rahul Gandhi a notice and given him 15 days to respond. However, a new can of worms has opened up which makes this sordid saga far worse. Reports now reveal that Rahul Gandhi’s former partner in the British company Backops, who owned 35% shares, got defence offset contracts during the Congress regime.
The India Today report reveals that Ulrik Mcknight, who was 35% co-owner of Backops UK, in which Rahul Gandhi owned a majority 65% equity between 2003 and 2009 before the firm was wound up, later went on to acquire offset contracts from French defence supplier Naval Group against Scorpene submarines in 2011.
The report has found that in 2009 after Rahul Gandhi exited both the companies, Backops Private Limited in India (where Priyanka Gandhi was then made the Director) and Backops UK, the companies were dissolved soon.
In 2011, French Naval Firm was given contracts by the Congress government to manufacture Scorpene Submarines. After the contract was granted by the Congress government, Indian firm Flash Forge was signed as a partner through its Indian subsidiary DCNS India.
In 2011-12, Flash Forge acquires the UK-based company Optical Armour and McKnight joins Optical Armour as Director of the company.
In 2012-13, McKnight was allotted 4% shares of the Optical Armour company.
In 2013, Flash forge acquired another UK based company named Composit Resin Developments Limited and in the same year, Mcknight also joined the company as one of the directors along with two directors from Flash Forge Limited according to the websites of Naval Group, their India partners include Flash Forge and CFF Fluid Control Private Limited (a joint venture between Flash Forge and another French group Coyard).
In 2015, website PGurus, whose article was reproduced here on Professor Vaidyanathan’s blog, had also raised the question of Rahul Gandhi’s partner McKnight bagging a prestigious defence deal under the Congress government.
The article had made the following charges:
- Rahul Gandhi and Ulrik R McKnight were Directors of Backops, which they closed in 2009.
- DCNS of France, the manufacturer of Scorpene submarines, announces a deal with Flash Forge to supply critical parts as part of a Rs. 20,000 crore ($4.5 billion) deal to supply 6 submarines in India, sometime in June 2011.
- Ulrik McKnight is appointed as a Director in Optimal Armour Limited (OAL) on June 6, 2012. He states in this form that his Nationality is the United States of America and that he resides there.
- Ulrik McKnight becomes a Director in Composite Resin Developments (CRDL)Limited on Feb 19, 2013. He states that he usually resides in the US and enters his Nationality as Swedish.
- Two Indian nationals, Gautam Makker and Sunil Menon who are Directors in the Indian company Flash Forge Pvt. Limited is also appointed as Directors in Optimal Armour and Composite Resin Developments at about the same time as McKnight.
- Flash Forge acquires a majority stake in Composite Resin on December 20, 2013, and in Optimal Armour on March 23, 2012.
OpIndia had also covered a story about the explanation Congress provided as a counter to the charge that Rahul Gandhi had signed documents as a British citizen. We had found that the Congress’ explanation gave rise to more questions than it answered.
We had found that in all probability, Ulrik McKnight is journalist and NYT columnist Sonia Faleiro’s husband. And who is Sonia Faleiro? She is the daughter of Eduardo Faleiro, who has been a Congress politician all his life and has even been a Union Minister for 5 years. Nothing illegal here, but now we know how Rahul Gandhi might have met Ulrik McKnight.
The company of whose document Congress had shared (where Rahul Gandhi signed as an Indian national), Bristol Legal Services Limited is registered at. 6 Lower Park Row, Bristol BS1 5BJ is the address which is also the address for correspondence for ‘Thomas Paul Russell’. It is also the address of one company called ‘Bourse Company Services’ which helps individuals in registering companies. The company shares its address with over 70 other companies. Hardly anything is available on who Thomas Paul Russell is. Brian Lovegrove mentioned above also has his address set up as 6, Lower Park Row, Bristol.
There were several other questions that were raised with the Congress’ clarification and our entire investigative report can be read here.
While the Indian and European companies associated with Rahul Gandhi were dissolved before the French company Naval Group engaged in a contract with Flash Forge, the fact that Rahul Gandhi’s former partner and co-owner in his firm Backops got a defence offset deal from the Congress government does deem investigation as it is bound to open a can of worms that has not come up yet.