- Rahul Gandhi alleges kick-back given to Anil Ambani by Dassault
- Reliance Group said details of transactions in public domain
- Dassault said under no pressure to select Reliance Group as partner
Flagging a report on the Rafale jet deal by news portal The Wire, Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged today that plane-maker Dassault Aviation paid Rs 284 crore to Anil Ambani's company as "first instalment of kickbacks" and commented: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi won't survive an inquiry on Rafale, I guarantee."
The Congress president shared no evidence or document to substantiate his allegations.
The Wire report, on which Rahul Gandhi has based his latest broadside, says Rafale maker Dassault followed up its offset partnership with Reliance Defence by investing around 40 million euros, around Rs 284 crore last year in another Anil Ambani venture that is loss-making and has almost zero revenues. The news portal has cited regulatory filings in France and India.
The Wire report says Dassault's investment translated into a Rs 284 crore profit for the Ambani group company, Reliance Infrastructure, which sold shares in a subsidiary, Reliance Airport Developers Limited (RADL) at a premium.
The Wire refers to an interview in which Dassault CEO Eric Trappier had claimed his company chose Reliance ADAG as its offsets partner because it had land available next to an airport. "However, the land was only given to Reliance by the state government after it had reached an understanding with Dassault to collaborate on the Rafale," the report said.
"It is now revealed that the land was actually bought from the money of the contract that was given by Dassault to Anil Ambani... this is a clear-cut case of getting a kickback," said Mr Gandhi.
"The CEO is lying, the big question is why a company would invest Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company with a valuation of Rs 8.3 lakh. This is called kick-back. This is the first instalment of the kick-back that was given to Anil Ambani by Dassault," the Congress president alleged, saying that "Rafale is an open and shut case".
"So why is Dassault CEO lying, because he is trying to protect one person the person who runs this country...Modi," he said.
NDTV has reached out to both Dassault and the Anil Ambani Reliance Group on the Wire article. Dassault has not responded so far to emails, text or WhatsApp messages. The Anil Ambani Reliance Group has conveyed to NDTV that while it will not respond to the Wire article, details of the transactions mentioned are in the public domain in Dassault's annual report 2017 and Reliance Infra's March 2018 Annual Report.
The Wire report cites public filings by Reliance Infrastructure and Dassault Aviation's, which, it says, mentions the firm's acquisition of 'non-listed securities' including a 34.7% equity participation in Reliance Airport Developers. Filings for 2017 show that Reliance Aerostructure received an inter-corporate deposit of Rs 89.45 crore from Reliance Infrastructure, the same year that Dassault aviation bought 34.79% of Reliance Infrastructure's stake in Reliance Airport Developers.
The Congress and other opposition parties have been attacking the 36-fighter jet deal alleging that the government signed a not-so-favourable contract solely to help Anil Ambani.
The Supreme Court this week asked the government for details of how Dassault chose companies in Anil Ambani's group to partner with in India. In exchange for landing the contract, Dassault has to invest half the value of the deal - about 30,000 crores - in Indian firms. Reliance Defence was chosen as one of those "offset" partners. The opposition has alleged that the company was chosen in a process that lacked transparency.
Dassault has said it was under no pressure to select Reliance Defence as its partner for a huge joint venture in Nagpur that will manufacture plane parts - though not for the 36 jets ordered by India.
Reliance, in a statement today, said Congress's allegation that Anil Ambani got contracts worth Rs 30,000 crore is an attempt to mislead public for political gains.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.