Sale of French Rafale jet fighters to India: how a state scandal was buried

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In 2016 France and India signed a 7.8-billion-euro deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters made by French defence group Dassault. Mediapart can reveal that, alongside this controversial deal, Dassault also agreed to pay one million euros to a middleman who is now under investigation in India in connection with another defence deal. The French anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) discovered this separate arrangement during a routine audit of Dassault. The AFA nonetheless decided not to alert the prosecution authorities over the payment. This is the first part of Mediapart's investigation into a state scandal which also raises questions over the both the justice system and the political authorities. Yann Philippin reports.

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It was a great day for the French defence industry. In New Delhi on September 23rd 2016 the French minister for defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar, watched by Éric Trappier, CEO of French company Dassault Aviation, signed one of the biggest arms deals ever concluded by the French state. This was for the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets – made by Dassault – to the Indian state for 7.8 billion euros. To put this sum into context it is the equivalent of the annual gross domestic product of a country such as Benin in West Africa.