Indian politician accuses French CEO of ‘hiding truth’ in Rafale deal

Two Rafale fighter jets fly over their air base in Saint-Dizier, France, in this February 13, 2015 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 November 2018
0

Indian politician accuses French CEO of ‘hiding truth’ in Rafale deal

  • The claims prompted further questions over the deal in Indian media amid skepticism from India’s opposition

LONDON: A senior Indian opposition leader on Tuesday accused the CEO of a French aviation company involved in a controversial fighter jet deal of “trying to hide the truth.”
Kapil Sibal, a lawyer and former cabinet minister, said Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier had deliberately tried in recent interviews to “muddy the waters” over the 2016 sale of 36 Rafale planes to India.
Critics have alleged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi forced the firm to partner with billionaire Anil Ambani, despite his Reliance Group having almost no experience in the aviation sector.
This follows comments in September from former French president Francois Hollande — under whose watch the sale was signed — that France had “no choice” but to join with Reliance amid pressure from the Indian government.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, foreign companies winning contracts must “offset” or reinvest half the total value — in this case around eight billion euros — in joint ventures or purchases with Indian firms.
But in interviews with Indian media outlets last month, Trappier expanded on denials it had been forced to work with Reliance, arguing it offered key benefits such as land near an airport and cost-effectiveness.
The claims prompted further questions over the deal in Indian media amid skepticism from India’s opposition.
“Dassault now is trying to hide the truth, and unfortunately is falling into its own trap,” Sibal told reporters during a visit to London.
“I would warn Dassault that the more they continue to hide the deal, the more likely it is that they will get into serious trouble in time to come.”
French investigative website Mediapart reported in early October on notes of a meeting between Dassault management and workers’ representatives which described the choice of Reliance as “imperative and compulsory.”
Weeks later India’s main opposition staged nationwide protests, accusing Modi of removing the head of the premier investigation agency in order to scuttle a probe into the case.
Sibal reiterated calls on Tuesday for an independent investigation into the accusations.
“I think that there is corruption at the highest level in our country,” he said.
The company could not be reached for immediate comment.
In an October statement, it insisted it had “freely chosen” Reliance.


Kremlin laments US ‘unpredictability’ under Trump

Updated 14 November 2018
0

Kremlin laments US ‘unpredictability’ under Trump

  • Peskov’s comments come two weeks ahead of a slated face-to-face between President Donald Trump and Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina
  • Relations between the two countries have hit new lows with American officials planning to roll out fresh sanctions against Moscow

SINGAPORE: The Kremlin hit out Wednesday at the “unpredictability” of the United States under the Trump administration, saying it was causing “deep global concern.”
“The fact that America has become unpredictable lately is no secret to anyone,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Dozhd TV during a visit by President Vladimir Putin to a regional summit in Singapore.
“Such unpredictability from the largest country, the most powerful economy in the world, is the subject of deep global concern,” he added.
Peskov’s comments come two weeks ahead of a slated face-to-face between President Donald Trump and Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina.
Relations between the two countries have hit new lows with American officials planning to roll out fresh sanctions against Moscow in response to the botched poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.
Western governments have accused Russia of being behind the plot which saw Skripal and his daughter poisoned with a nerve agent. Two British citizens were also poisoned, one of whom died.
Moscow has denied being behind the brazen hit and has condemned efforts to sanction it over the incident.
“We do not recognize these unilateral restrictions... and we consider them illegitimate,” Peskov said of the threatened sanctions, adding they would only “further complicate” Russia-US relations.
World leaders are currently meeting in Singapore, which is hosting the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Trump is not at the gathering and has sent Vice President Mike Pence instead.
Peskov said “no separate meeting” was currently planned between Putin and Pence. But he added that there was no need for a face-to-face given Trump and Putin will soon meet in Buenos Aires.