A French media report has revealed that Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of French combat jet Rafale, had agreed to pay one million euro to an Indian man just after the signing of the Indo-French contract in 2016.

Citing the findings of French anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA), the French publication Mediapart in its report claimed that payment of 1.1 million euro was made to a man in India, described as a “middleman”, in connection with the ₹58,000 crore Rafale deal for 36 jets for the Indian Air Force.

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The report says that the French aircraft manufacturer had paid the amount to Defsys Solutions for 50 models of the aircraft which were to be given as “gifts”. Defsys Solutions, India, is a company undertaking assembly of flight simulators and optical and electronic systems.

According to the report, Dassault had furnished an invoice dated March 30, 2017. The invoice, related to 50% of the total order (1,017,850 euros), was for the manufacture of 50 models of the Rafale C, with a price per unit of 20,357 euros. The manufacturing unit however failed to provide any documentary evidence to the AFA inspectors, which could establish the existence of those models. The company was also unable to explain why the expenditure was listed as a “gift to clients” in their accounts.

The report has once again stirred a war of words between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. While the opposition is demanding a thorough probe into the deal, the BJP rubbished the allegations and called them “completely baseless”.

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Targeting the BJP-led central government, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a press conference said, “Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi answer to the nation now? Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India’s biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government.”

Meanwhile, the saffron party has hit back at the Congress for raising the issue again. Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the opposition party attempted to make it a big issue during 2019 Lok Sabha polls but lost badly.  

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