A French judge has been appointed to head a probe into suspected “corruption and favouritism” in the ₹59,000 crore Rafale deal with India for 36 fighter jets, according to a report in a French online journal, Mediapart.
“The highly sensitive probe into the inter-governmental deal signed in 2016 was formally opened on June 14,” Mediapart said. It said the development was confirmed by the financial crimes branch of the French public prosecution services on Friday.
The French website carried a series of reports on alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal in April 2021.
In one of those reports, Mediapart claimed that the former head of the financial crimes branch of France’s public prosecution services, Éliane Houlette, shelved an investigation into alleged evidence of corruption in the Rafale jet deal despite the objection of colleagues.
It said Houlette justified her decision to shelve the investigations as preserving “the interests of France, the workings of institutions.”
“Now, her successor as head of the PNF, Jean-François Bohnert, has decided to support the opening of a probe, after the complaint was updated with details from Mediapart’s recent series of investigations,” Mediapart’s latest report said.
The criminal investigation, Mediapart said, will “examine questions surrounding the actions” of former French president François Hollande, who was in office when the Rafale deal was inked