Dassault Paid 7.5 Mn Euros To Middleman To Secure Rafale Deal Report Claims

Dassault allegedly paid at least 7.5 million euros via a Mauritius-registered shell company to Sushen Gupta between 2007 and 2012.

French publication Mediapart has alleged that French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation paid at least 7.5 million euros to a middleman between 2007 and 2012 using fake invoices and shell companies to help secure the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India.

The report also claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have been in possession of evidence since at least October 2018 which shows that Dassault allegedly paid at least 7.5 million euros via Interstellar Technologies Limited, a Mauritius-registered shell company, to Sushen Gupta. Gupta had been charged by the ED on charges of money laundering in 2019 for his involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

As part of their investigation into the AgustaWestland case, the CBI and ED received numerous documents pertaining to Interstellar including contracts, invoices and bank statements. These documents, the report states, led the investigators to the discovery that Gupta also acted as a middleman for Dassault in the Rafale deal.

Documents accessed by Mediapart reveal that Gupta allegedly received kickbacks when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power at the Centre.

In September 2016, India signed a Rs 59,000-crore deal with France to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets. The deal was criticised by many with the Congress accusing the Narendra Modi government of buying fighter jets at an inflated price.

Mediapart's report states that Gupta employed the services of Indian IT services company IDS and a Singapore-based company Interdev, which was portrayed as the "system integrator for Dassault in Asia". Interdev, however, is a shell company and was allegedly managed by a front man for the Gupta family.

As per a 2004 contract, Interdev bought IT services from IDS and claiming to subcontract the work, then transferred the vast majority of the money to Interstellar.

"According to the bank statements obtained by the CBI, Interdev used this method to pay Interstellar some 6.6 million euros in commissions from Dassault between 2007 and 2012, the period of the bid process for the jet fighter contract," the report states.

The CBI and ED obtained contracts, invoices and bank statements of Interstellar from Mauritian authorities. CBI officials allegedly found identical invoices of the computer of an employee of the law firm OP Khaitan & Co, at which Gautam Khaitan, Gupta's lawyer is the managing partner.

An employee at Khaitan's office told CBI officials that Gautam Khaitan's personal assistant "used to prepare fake invoices on behalf of various companies as per instructions of Gautam Khaitan, and after making/forging signatures on these invoices […], he was sending the invoices to thefunds manager of Interstellar Technologies in Mauritius," states the Mediapart report.

According to Mediapart, CBI officials also found documents that show Sushen Gupta reportedly "got hold of confidential documents from India's Ministry of Defence detailing the stance of the Indian negotiators, in particular how they calculated the price of the aircrafts."

Mediapart have stated that Dassault Aviation, Sushen Gupta, Gautam Khaitan, CBI and ED did not offer any comments when reached out to by the French publication.

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