A court in Paris has ordered a probe by the National Financial Prosecutors’ Office into a 2016 deal to sell 36 Rafale figher jets to India by Dassualt Aviation.
French investigative new website Mediapart reported July 2, 2021, “as confirmed to us by the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (French acronym-PNF), the Paris court on June 14 opened a judicial investigation, entrusted to an examining magistrate, on the sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighters.”
Earlier, on April 28, French anti-corruption NGO, Sherpa had filed a complaint with the PNF, “requesting the opening of a judicial investigation for corruption, favouritsm and various financial offences likely to have occurred in the context of the sale of 36 combat aircrafts produced by Dassault Aviation and sold to India in 2016.”
A press release issued by Sherpa said: All the documentation gathered by SHERPA over the past two years, as well as the revelations made by Médiapart on the passivity of the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) following the discovery of suspicious payments by Dassault Aviation, hidden commissions and bribes paid to Indian intermediaries and the fate of anti-corruption clauses that have disappeared from the deal (document), are all elements showing the importance of opening an investigation.
In response to allegations of bribery, Dassault Aviation had said in an April 8, 2021 statement: – “Numerous controls are carried out by official organizations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales.
“Dassault Aviation wishes to reiterate that it acts in strict compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and national laws, in particular the law of December 9, 2016 known as Sapin 2. In the context of the Sapin 2 law, the company has completed and strengthened its system for the prevention and detection of corruption and influence peddling.”
However, Sherpa asserted that the Sapin 2 Law, leaves too much leeway for the implementation of internal procedures in companies to fight corruption. According to Sandra Cossart, Executive Director of Sherpa, the present case (Rafale jets sale to India) is an example of the failure of this approach.