17:29 GMT23 July 2021
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    A report published by French investigative website Mediapart revealed that a newly-appointed judge has begun a fresh investigation into a “highly sensitive” case of alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the 2016 $9.3 billion Rafale contract of 2016 with India.

    A big twist in France's multi-billion-dollar Rafael deal with India – signed in 2016 – for 36 French multirole fighter jets has sparked controversy after a new judicial probe was launched in France on 14 June amid “corruption” and “favouritism” charges.

    According to reports published by French investigative website Mediapart, France's National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has appointed a judge to investigate allegations of political corruption in the deal.

    The new probe is the outcome of several news reports made by Mediapart journalist Yann Philipp in April – he said the first complaint was “buried” in 2019 by a former PNF chief.

    Following this, a complaint was filed by a French NGO called "Sherpa" which works for the victims of financial crimes. It urged the PNF to open a judicial investigation into corruption, favouritism, and various financial offences thought to muddy the sale of 36 aircraft manufactured by aviation major Dassault Aviation.

    In its latest report, Mediapart said that “the criminal investigation opened on June 14 and led by an independent magistrate, an investigating judge, will, among other elements, examine questions surrounding the action of former French President Francois Hollande, who was in office when the Rafale deal was inked, and current French President Emmanuel Macron, who was at that time Hollande’s economy and finance minister, as well as the then defence minister, now foreign affairs minister, Jean Yves Le Drian."

    Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress politician Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the Prime Minister Modi-led government purchased the jets at an inflated cost before raising the alarm over the offset contract given to a private firm instead of the public-sector's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

    “Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated today after the French government has ordered a probe,” Surjewala said.

    "The scandalous expose of Rafale scam involving corruption, treason, loss to public exchequer has finally been uncovered," he added.

    Surjewala pointed out that the French government deleted the anti-corruption clause – he therefore urged PM Modi to order a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal.

    While there's no immediate reaction from the Indian government or the BJP on this latest development, several people have shared their views on social media.

    Related:

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    France Promises 50 Years of Support to Indian Rafale Jets
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