Mediapart, a media portal in France, has published what it calls ‘fake invoices’ that are alleged to have helped Dassault secure the deal for the 36 Rafale jets with the Indian Government. Mediapart claimed that Indian agencies did not pursue the case despite the existence of the fake invoices.
The Mediapart report said, “It involves offshore companies, dubious contracts and ‘false’ invoices. Mediapart can reveal that detectives from India’s federal police force, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), and colleagues from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which fights money laundering, have had proof since October 2018 that Dassault paid at least €7.5 million in secret commissions to middleman Sushen Gupta.”
The ‘fake invoices’ cited by Mediapart occurred when the UPA Government was in power. According to the invoices, payments totaling around 11 million Euros were made to a firm in Singapore. “According to an accounts spreadsheet belonging to Sushen Gupta, an entity called simply ‘D’, which is a code he regularly used to designate Dassault, paid €14.6 million to Interdev in Singapore over the period 2004-2013,” the media outlet’s own report from April this year said.
Quite clearly, the invoices are related to a deal that the UPA Government was trying to make. After the NDA Government came to power, the UPA era deal was scrapped and the Indian Government secured a government-to-government deal that involved India buying 36 Rafale jets directly from the French Government. Then Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the UPA era deal was not viable and had not been closed either.
Since there was no bidding in the current deal, there is no question of bribes being involved to win a bid. Furthermore, Mediapart’s own reports confirm that the alleged payments were made during the UPA era.
The renewed buzz around the Rafale deal was initiated after a judge in France reopened the investigation into the deal that his predecessor had closed. It is not clear what the charges are, or even what the allegations are supposed to entail.
The Supreme Court in December 2018 had declined to order a probe into the Rafale deal. Consequently, in May 2019, the apex court had dismissed review petitions against its previous verdict. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had also concluded that the Indian Government had not overpaid for the Rafale jets.