'Rafale Papers’: the explosive documents in France-India jets deal

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The press attaché of French foreign affairs minister  Jean-Yves Le Drian sent the following response to questions submitted by Mediapart:

“As already indicated in 2018 when certain information was published in the Indian press, we underline that the inter-governmental agreement signed on September 23rd 2016 between the French and Indian governments for the supply to India of 36 Rafale aircraft, concerned only the obligations of the French government to ensure the delivery and quality of this equipment.

The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are, or will be selected by French industrialists. In conformity with the Indian acquisition procedure, the French industrialist have all freedom to choose the Indian industrial partners who they consider the most pertinent, and then to submit for approbation by the Indian government the offset projects that they wish to carry out with these local partners in India, in order to fulfil their obligations in this respect.

Specifically, agreements have already been signed by French industrialists with very many Indian companies, both public and private, in the framework of Indian law.

Anil Ambani had contact within the French administration, as is normal for the leader of a large foreign industrial group.

We in no way validate the [reports] which you refer to in your other questions.”

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Mediapart sent detailed questions to all those involved in the issues raised in this report.

The four principal companies involved in the manufacturing of the Rafale fighter aircraft and the plane’s equipment, namely Dassault Aviation (design and manufacture), Thales (electronic equipment), Safran (jet engines) and MBDA (missile weaponry), declined to respond.

Indian business intermediary Sushen Gupta, who was contacted by email, and re-contacted on several occasions, did not respond to Mediapart’s request for an interview.  

The spokesperson for Jean-Yves Le Drian, now French foreign minister and who at the time of the events evoked here was France’s defence minister, sent Mediapart a brief written reply (which can be found in full, translated from French into English, here, or by clicking on the ‘More’ tab at the top of this page). The French armed forces ministry (the now renamed defence ministry), told Mediapart that it had “no additional commentary to add” to that provided by the foreign affairs ministry.

France’s former president François Hollande, in office over the period of the negotiations and signing of the Rafale deal, replied to Mediapart’s questions by mobile phone text messaging.

India’s agency for investigating and prosecuting economic crimes, and notably money laundering, the Enforcement Directorate, confirmed reception of Mediapart’s questions submitted to it but did not respond to them. Similarly, the Indian defence ministry press secretary acknowledged receiving Mediapart’s questions submitted to it, but no response followed.

Contacted by email, the Indian company IDS did not respond to Mediapart’s questions.