Dassault and EDF business in India monitored by New Delhi

By Julien Bouissou

Posted today at 6:00 p.m.

In the summer of 2018, the Indian state began to take the accusations launched by Rahul Gandhi seriously. Not a day goes by without the opposition leader criticizing the contract estimated at 8 billion euros signed in September 2016 between India and France, for the sale of 36 fighter jets. He calls it“Scam”, is surprised that the price is not made public, suspects the government of corruption, and accuses the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, of having chosen one of his relatives, the wealthy businessman Anil Ambani, as one beneficiaries of the “offsets”, that is to say half of the contract which must be spent and subcontracted in India, which is a nice jackpot.

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One year before the elections scheduled for May 2019, these attacks could tarnish the image of Mr. Modi, especially as the media are giving more and more importance to this “Rafale affair”. It was during this period that Anil Ambani and his relatives were selected for possible surveillance by the spyware Pegasus, capable of sucking all the content of a phone without anything indicating to the user that his device has been hacked. Their contact details appear in a list of 50,000 numbers, consulted by the organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and shared with seventeen media, including The world, united within the “Pegasus Project”.

Among the potential targets are Tony Jesudasan, Anil Ambani’s right-hand man, appointed head of Dassault’s new partner company in India, Reliance Defense Limited, as well as his wife, Parul Sharma Jesudasan. The businessman has no experience in aeronautics or the defense industry, but knows the corridors of power better than anyone and regularly feeds the Indian press with rumors and anecdotes. “He has a reputation for talking a lot, probably too much”, said a senior Indian official of him who did not appreciate his lack of discretion.

But Mr. Jesudasan enjoys the confidence of his boss and accompanies him on all his travels in France, in particular at the Elysee Palace, where he meets François Hollande. No doubt he knows he is being watched, he who prefers to communicate by fax rather than by e-mail. The selection a few weeks earlier of Prashant Sukul, a senior official responsible for the proper implementation of offsets clauses at the Ministry of Defense shows that the Indian state is very interested in the money that must be disbursed by Dassault in India.

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