French NGO files complaint, seeks clarification on terms of Rafale deal 

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Delhi, India Nov 24, 2018, 10.19 AM (IST)

A French NGO called Sherpa has sought a clarification over the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India and has filed a complaint with France's Financial Prosecutor's Office. 

In a press release, published on its Facebook account, the NGO states that the complaint was filed on October 26 "to clarify under which conditions 36 fighter aircraft produced by Dassault Aviation were sold to India in 2016 and the choice of its Indian partner, Reliance, a group led by a close partner of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi."

The complaint closely follows another complaint "lodged on the 4th of October 2018 by a former Indian Minister and an anti-corruption lawyer with the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi."

The NGO, in its statement, informed that the complaint filed by the Indian minister was lodged against PM Modi for "abuse of authority" and " grant of undue advantages " in connection with the Rafale deal. 

The release concluded by stating that the NGO expects the French Public Prosecutor's Office to "promptly investigate the seriousness of the facts and the presumptions on the reported offences."

Sherpa, an NGO based in France, describes itself as an organisation with the "mission to protect and defend victims of economic crimes drawing on the power of the law and to fight against the new forms of impunity linked to globalization." It calls its motive to fight "economic crimes."

The Opposition has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of corruption in the Rafale deal, alleging that the NDA government is paying three times as much as the UPA government had agreed to pay for every Rafale. 

The original Indian partner in the Rafale deal was the public sector HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd). But HAL was turfed out of the new deal, in favour of Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence which has little to no experience in the defence and aerospace industries. 

The government had earlier said it was Dassault which chose Reliance and they had nothing to do with it. The Rafale deal row escalated when former French President Francois Hollande, while on a trip to India, said it was the Indian government which had suggested Reliance's name and that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani's company.

In an interview with news agency ANI, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said, "We chose Ambani by ourselves. We already have 30 partners other than Reliance."
 

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The release concluded by stating that the NGO expects the French Public Prosecutor's Office to 'promptly investigate the seriousness of the facts and the presumptions on the reported offences.'