Why have new Judges been appointed to investigate the Rafale deal?

Conflicts Jul 15, 2021

India's political climate may heat up as a result of recent developments in France. Despite the controversial Rafale deal, demands for an independent investigation are likely to resurface.

According to a recent report on July 2 on the French website Mediapart, a French judge has been selected to conduct a judicial investigation into alleged corruption and favoritism in the 7.8 billion euro sale of 36 fighter aircraft to India.

Multiple allegations of corruption have been made in connection with the multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal with India in 2016. The Indian government has agreed to buy 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation, France24 reported.

Investigative findings by Mediapart

In the beginning, the PNF refused to conduct an investigation. The case, however, was investigated by Mediapart, an investigative journalism website. It alleged that PNF covered up the transaction errors.

Moreover, the Indian government was bribed with some of the money, and in response to this Dassault Aviation mentioned that nothing of the sort has been covered in their audit.

Even though the PNF's investigation into the Rafale affair has come to light, the media has not ignored it.

In a previous investigation report, it stated, “this transaction was corrupted and twisted. Dassault Aviation supplied significant sums to Anil Ambani, a close ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

PNF under pressure

In the Paris financial center, Rafale files were considered the most sensitive documents.  According to MediaPart investigative journalist Yann Philippin, the PNF probe into the highly sensitive Rafale deal was officially launched on June 14.

In April 2021, Mediapart published investigative reports about the case, which prompted the PNF to initiate an investigation.

The criminal investigation will be carried out by investigatory magistrates and will focus on the actions of former French President François Hollande, who was in government when the Rafale contract was inked, and current French President Emmanuel Macron, who served as Hollande's economy and finance minister at the time. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will also be investigated because he was the Defense Minister at that time.

What has happened so far?

Reliance Group, owned by Anil Ambani, has been selected as Dassault Aviation's partner in India. His relationship with Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, had been reported in the first complaint.

126 fighter jets were ordered from Dassault Aviation by India in 2012. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was its Indian partner.

It was reported by Dassault that the transaction was nearing completion by March 2015. In April of the same year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an official visit to France, which dramatically altered the situation.

Accordingly, the old 126 fighter jets deal was canceled by India. The Government of India entered into a new agreement with Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale aircraft on March 26, 2015. It replaced HAL with Reliance Group. However, the Reliance Group does not have aircraft manufacturing experience.

The question now arises whether new findings will unfold or the deal sees an end.

This article has been written by Omer Khan for The Paradigm

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