18:08 GMT09 May 2021
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    India’s main opposition party has alleged that Dassault Aviation paid $45 million as a kickback for a Rafale fighter jet deal to Anil Ambani’s Reliance group, the company has refuted the charges and said that the investment is in no way linked to the Rafale contract.

    French jet manufacturer Dassault Aviation Limited had purchased a stake in a loss-making Indian firm that has almost zero revenues. Incidentally, the loss-making firm is Anil Ambani led Reliance Infrastructure. India's main opposition party Congress chief Rahul Gandhi alleged that Dassault Aviation paid $45 million to Anil Ambani's Reliance Defense as the "first installment of kickbacks" of a Rafale fighter jet deal that was concluded in 2016 between India and France under a government to government deal.

    "Dassault gave around INR 284 crore ($45 million) to a loss-making company with a valuation of INR 8.3 lakh ($11400). This is the first installment of kickbacks that has been given to Anil Ambani," Rahul Gandhi said on Friday.

    "Rafale is an open and shut case and there is only one man who has done corruption," he added.

    Reliance Airport Developers — the firm that Dassault Aviation invested in posted losses of INR 10.35 lakh (around $14,200) for the financial year ending March 2017 and earned revenues of INR 6 lakh ($8,250). In the year ending March 2016, the firm had no revenues and posted losses of INR 9 lakh ($12,300).

    Dassault Aviation has come under massive attack in India since former French President Francois Hollande sparked a major row last month when he said that the French government had no say in choosing its Indian commercial partner for offset delivery in the deal. Anil Ambani led Reliance Defense is one of the offset partners under the $8.7 billion Rafale fighter jet deal. India's opposition has been charging Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of crony-capitalism under which it favored Anil Ambani.

    READ MORE: Indian Air Force Chief Raises Concern Over Dearth of Fighter Jets

    Surprisingly, Dassault Aviation has not revealed the amount the company invested in Reliance Airport Developers in any interviews since the controversy erupted about the deal. Dassault chairman Eric Trappier said in an interview recently that so far only INR 70 crores (around $10 million) had been invested in the joint venture with Reliance. Trappier also added that the company had selected Reliance Defense over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) because it had land near an airport in Nagpur.

    Nevertheless, Rahul Gandhi said Ambani's firm was preferred despite the fact that HAL had more land.

    "The Dassault CEO had said the reason HAL wasn't given the contract was that Anil Ambani had land. Now it turns out that the land that Anil Ambani had was purchased by money given by Dassault," Gandhi said.

    By Friday evening, Reliance Infrastructure issued a statement wherein it claimed that Dassault's investment in Reliance Airport Developers Limited (RADL) has no link whatsoever to the Rafale contract between the governments of India and France, with all 36 aircraft to be exported from France.

    "This investment is an independent arms-length transaction based on a fair market valuation of the land and other assets of the Company, and the future business potential in the airports and related infrastructure sector," Reliance Infrastructure said in a statement.


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    fighter jets, Defense Procurement, allegation, corruption, Rafale fighter jets, Reliance Defence, Dassault Aviation, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, India, France
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