The highly sensitive investigation into the 2016 inter-government Rafale deal was formally launched on 14 June.
The French government has taken a big step in the investigation of the Rafale deal. The alleged ‘corruption’ in the nearly Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal with India will now face a judicial inquiry in France. The country has appointed a French judge to investigate the matter. A report by a French online journal Mediapart has given this information. Mediapart said that “the highly sensitive investigation into the 2016 inter-government deal was formally launched on 14 June”. This was confirmed by the Financial Crimes Wing of the French Public Prosecution Services on Friday, it said.
The French website had published several reports in April 2021 on alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal. In one of those reports, Mediapart claimed that the former head of the Financial Crimes Wing of France’s Public Prosecution Services, Ilene Howlett, stalled an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale jet deal despite objections from allies. It said Howlett justified his decision to halt the investigation in the name of protecting “the interests of France, the functioning of the institutions”.
The investigation around former President Hollande
“Now, the new head of the PNF, Jean-François Bouhart, has decided to support the investigation,” said the new report. Mediapart said the investigation will involve questions surrounding the three people. These included former French President François Hollande, who was in office when the deal was signed, current French President Emmanuel Macron, who was then Hollande’s Minister of Economy and Finance, and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who then handled the Defense Department.
Allegations were levelled against the center
In the year 2016, the Government of India signed a deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France. India has also got a dozen of these aircraft and by 2022 all the aircraft will be available. Even when this deal was done, there was a lot of controversy in India. Before the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had targeted the Modi government on the issue of corruption in the deal of Rafale fighter aircraft.