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Rafale Scam: French Journalist Slams Eric Trappier for Calling Company ‘Clean’, Reveals Former Director has Bribery Charge

The former director of Dassault aviation received an 18-month probationary sentence for bribery in 1998. He had bribed numerous Belgium politicians in 1988 in order to secure a contract.

Senior French editor Julien Bouissou raised contradictions that presented themselves in Eric Trappier’s interview with the Indian news agency ANI on Tuesday, November 13. Trappier, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dassault, which is the signatory to the Rafale deal, said in his interview that there was no discrepancy in the nature of the deal in which the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence is the offset partner.

In a series of tweets, Bouissou, who is the South-Asia editor for the French newspaper Le Monde, pointed out the fallacies in the arguments made by Trappier in defence of the deal.  Countering Trappier’s claim that Dassault’s negotiations with Reliance had begun even before Narendra Modi had become the prime minister, Bouissou said that Dassault’s negotiations for a Rafale deal was with the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance group. He noted, “‘We started negotiating with Reliance group in 2011, (Francois) Hollande was not the French president, Modi was not the PM,’ said Eric Trappier. Dassault was negotiating with the Reliance group of Mukesh Ambani, (and) not the Reliance group of Anil Ambani. So it was a different company.”

Mentioning Trappier’s statement that he did not have a “reputation of lying” and that Dassault was a “clean” company in the deal, Bouissou said, “‘My company is clean,’ said Eric Trappier. It has not been always the case. The former director of Dassault aviation received in 1998 an 18-month probationary sentence for bribery. He had bribed numerous Belgium politicians in 1988 in order to secure a contract.”

Also Read: Govt Note to SC Throws up More Modi Wrongdoing in Rafale Scam

Bouissou also raised two specific points. The first that the terms of the 36 jets — in fly away condition — which to be sold to India under the terms of the trade deal signed by the PM Modi in September 2016 were similar to the terms underlined in the initial tender to procure the Rafale jets — cancelled by the PM — which included 18 of the total 126 Rafale jets to be sold to India in fly away condition.

And, the second point Bouissou raised was that Trappier while noticeably not contradicting the report that the Indian government had paid 40 per cent more for purchasing 36 Rafale aircrafts as compared to the previous agreement for the 126 jets, had merely bypassed the subject by stating he did not want to comment upon it.

The Oppositions’ Riposte

Sitaram Yechury, senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] highlighted the irony in Trappier’s interview. In a tweet posted on Tuesday, November 13, Yechury remarked, “These are questions the CAG, Supreme Court and CBI should answer. Not the French CEO of a company making money on this deal or the PM – all of whom are complicit in the corruption.”

Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, too, had tweeted that PM Modi had admitted to the Supreme Court that there had been a “theft” in the Rafale deal.

Also Read: BJP’s 2016 Rafale Deal 40 per cent more Costly than 2012 Agreement with Dassault

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