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Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, the company that has been in the middle of a political slugfest on account of the Rafale fighter jets deal, has said that the company itself chose Anil Ambani's company Reliance as an offset partner for the deal.
In an interview to news agency ANI, Trappier said "We chose Ambani by ourselves. We already have 30 partners other than Reliance. The IAF is supporting the deal because they need the fighter jets for their own defence to be at the top."
We chose Ambani by ourselves. We already have 30 partners other than Reliance. The IAF is supporting the deal because they need the fighter jets for their own defence to be at the top: Dassault CEO Eric Trappier on allegations of corruption in the Reliance-Dassault JV deal pic.twitter.com/GPzjadkWz8— ANI (@ANI) November 13, 2018
The Rafale deal has been marred in controversy with the opposition Congress levelling charges of corruption and crony capitalism on the Modi government.
The Centre has refuted the charges repeatedly and insisted that all proper procedures were followed during the signing of the deal.
"I don't lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don't have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don't lie," Trappier responded regarding Rahul Gandhi's allegations.
Regarding the pricing of the fighter jets, Trappier said "Price of 36 was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. 36 is the double of 18. So as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was govt to govt, there was negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9%."
"We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV (Dassault-Reliance). Engineers and workers from Dassault are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of the deal is concerned," Trappier added.
Earlier in September, a French media report which quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.
The report in 'Mediapart', a French-language publication, quoted Hollande as saying, "It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us."
The report created a storm in political circles and provided ammunition to the opposition Congress which claimed vindication of its allegations over Hollande's comments
The French government in reponse said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale fighter jet deal, asserting that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the contract.
The Supreme Court on October 31 had asked the Centre for pricing details of the 36 Rafale fighter jets India is buying from France in a sealed cover within 10 days wihtout disclosing "strategic and confidential" information need not be disclosed.
The document titled "Details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order" stated that the process as laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure-2013 has been followed in procurement of the Rafale aircraft.
It said the procurement process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) has been completely followed for the procurement of aircraft and Approval of Defence Acquisition Council for aircraft taken for the same.
(with inputs from agencies)