France opens judicial probe into Rafale deal with India

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Paris, July 03 (KMS): France has ordered judicial enquiry into the Rafale deal with India.

According to a report published by French online journal, Mediapart, a French judge has been appointed to head a probe into the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal with India for 36 fighter jets.

As per the report, the judge will probe suspected “corruption and favouritism” in the inter-governmental deal that was signed in 2016.

The report says that the probe was formally opened on June 14. It was confirmed on Friday (July 02) by the financial crimes branch of the French public prosecution services.

Mediapart had earlier reported that the former head of the financial crimes branch of France’s public prosecution services, Éliane Houlette, shelved an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale jet deal despite the objection of colleagues. Her successor as head of the PNF, Jean-François Bohnert, has decided to support the opening of a judicial probe, the news portal says.

In India, the Rafale deal has been controversial as the Opposition, led by the Congress, claims that the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government increased the price for each Rafale aircraft three times than the initial bid under the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. Under NDA, the price is at Rs 1,670 crore for each aircraft while it was Rs 526 crore under UPA, the Congress claims.

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