Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier on Tuesday rubbished the allegations levelled by Congress president Rahul Gandhi in connection with the Rafale fighter jets deal between India and France.
In an interview with news agency ANI, Trappier responded to a question on the allegations by the Congress party, saying, “I don’t lie”, He said that he had declared the truth earlier and would not lie at the position of CEO.
“I don’t lie. The truth I declared earlier and the statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie,” he said.
Trappier further said that the first deal with India was struck in 1953, under the government of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
On the pricing issue, Trappier said that the present aircrafts are cheaper by 9 %. “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 government to government, there was some negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9%. The price of Rafale in flyaway condition is less expensive in the 36 contract than the 126 contract,” he said.
On the allegations of corruption in the Reliance-Dassault JV deal, 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.”
He said that they are not working for any party. “Supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian government is what is most important.”
On the issue of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence being chosen as the offset partner, the Dassault Aviation CEO said that the money being invested was not going directly to Reliance but in a joint venture (JV) that included Dassault.
Trappier clarified about the investments being made by Dassault, adding that Reliance would match the amount since the shareholding pattern is 49% Dassault and 51% Reliance as per prescribed Government norms.
He said, “we are supposed to put in this company together about Rs 800 crore as 50:50. For the time being, to start work in the hangar and to pay workers and employees, we have already put Rs 40 crore. But it will be increased to Rs 800 crore, which implies Rs 400 crore by Dassault in the coming five years.”
Trappier added Dassault has seven years to perform offset. “During first three years, we are not obliged to say with who we are working. We have already settled work and agreement with 30 companies, which represents 40% of total offset obligation as per contract. Reliance is 10% out of the 40, while rest 30% is a direct agreement between these companies and Dassault,” He said.
On November 2, Rahul Gandhi, in a press conference alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani which was used to procure land in Nagpur. “It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying.If an inquiry starts on this Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed,” added Gandhi.
“Dassault gave Rs 284 crore to a loss-making company with a valuation of Rs 8.3 lakh. This is the first instalment of kickbacks that has been given to Anil Ambani,” Gandhi had said.