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In the latest development to Rafale case, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) of France has appointed a judge to investigate the alleged ‘corruption’ and ‘favoritism’ in the 2016 multi-billion dollar deal with India for the procurement of 36 Rafale jets.

According to the latest media reports, a judicial probe into the suspected corruption was opened on June 14 in France over the 7.8 billion euro Rafale contract of 2016. It is also being reported that a French judge has been tasked with probing corruption’s suspicions in the deal.

The PNF initially refused to probe the sale that prompted the French investigative website Mediapart to accuse it and the French Anti-corruption Agency of "burying" suspicions about the September 2016 Rafale deal.

The new investigation is an outcome of several reports done by Mediapart in April, which stated that "millions of euros of hidden commissions" were paid to a go-between who assisted Dassault Aviation to conclude the sale, some of which "may have been given as bribes" to Indian officials.

However, the manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft, Dassault has denied all the corruption allegations.

Also Read: Rafale controversy: Sushen Gupta legal team breaks silence over alleged payments, dubs reports 'baseless'

Based on the reports by Mediapart, Sherpa, an NGO which specializes in financial crimes, filed an official complaint in April with PNF. The NGO requested the opening of a judicial investigation for corruption, favoritism and various financial offenses likely to have occurred in the sale of 36 combat aircraft.

In 2018 too, the NGO had demanded an investigation in the matter. As per the first complaint, the NGO denounced the fact that initially, in 2012 the manufacturer of the aircraft won a contract to supply 126 jets to India and had been negotiating with Indian aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). By March 2015, the deal was almost seized.

However, the next month after PM Modi paid an official visit to France, manufacturers chose Reliance Group as its Indian partner, a conglomerate headed by billionaire Anil Ambani, who is close to Prime Minister Modi.

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, which has no experience in aeronautics, replaced HAL and finalized a new contract for 36 jets.

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