New Rafale Twist: Papers Show Agencies Didn’t Act On Alleged Kickbacks


Payment period spans NDA government under PM Vajpayee and UPA, which came to power right afterwards.

New Delhi:

As a fresh political controversy erupts over the Rafale deal, NDTV has found more evidence that Indian agencies ignored allegations that French company Dassault, the maker of the Rafale jets, may have paid crores of rupees to middlemen spanning both the BJP-led NDA 1.0 government and the Congress-led UPA.

A day ago, French portal Mediapart reported that Dassault paid almost 13 million euros (nearly Rs 110 crores at current rates) to a middleman, Sushen Gupta, between 2002-12 to help secure the sale of Rafale fighter jets to India, but Indian agencies failed to investigate these allegations despite having access to incriminating documents on at least some of these payments.

Now NDTV has found more documents that show that in 2019, three years after India signed the Rafale deal, central agencies, including the CBI, were alerted to possible kickbacks paid by Dassault, yet they failed to act on the allegations. Such allegations could have led to a blacklist of Dassault under Indian laws.

The documents form part of the CBI’s charge-sheet on alleged corruption in the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters for top leaders in India. They include a statement by Dheeraj Aggarwal, then manager of IT services company IDS, who in 2019 told the CBI that Dassault routed money to Sushen Gupta’s Mauritius-based shell firm Interstellar through IDS.

The arrangement was that 40 per cent of the payment made to IDS by Dassault was to be commission for Sushen Gupta’s Interstellar. IDS had allegedly helped channel Rs 4.15 crore of Dassault’s money to Interstellar between 2003 and 2006, according to Dheeraj Aggarwal.

The payment period spans the NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which was in power till 2004, and the UPA, which came to power right afterwards.

Despite including this testimony in its court filings, the CBI did not initiate a probe against the company. According to Indian laws, a company can be suspended or banned if it “resorts to corrupt practices,” “unfair means” or “illegal activities” during any period of the bidding and negotiations.