Rafale row: Sushen Gupta legal team breaks silence over alleged payments, dubs reports “baseless”

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Days after a French news portal alleged that a middleman was paid several million euros by Dassault Aviation, makers of Rafale fighter jets, businessman Sushen Mohan Gupta’s legal team broke its silence and denied all the allegations as “fabricated and baseless”.

The legal team claimed that neither Gupta nor his companies were involved in any manner in the Indo-French transaction for the acquisition of 36 fighter jets.

The remarks from the businessman’s legal team came days after a French news portal, Mediapart, in three investigative reports claimed that it was in possession of documents that showed Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the Rafale jet, and its industrial partner Thales, a defence electronics firm, paid “middleman” Gupta several million euros in “secret commissions” in connection with the Rs 59,000 crore deal for 36 jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In a statement issued on Friday, Gupta’s legal team said, “Fabricated, factually incorrect and baseless reports have appeared in a section of the media over the past days reporting factually incorrect statements regarding Gupta and his companies.”

It said that first and foremost, “all allegations, insinuations or claims of any impropriety, irregularity or illegality involving Gupta or companies are vehemently denied and rejected as being false, baseless and mischievous”.

It said that the reports seem to be “motivated”. “It is preposterous to suggest that a private individual could have influenced a government to governmental transaction for the acquisition of 36 Rafale jets,” it said.

Categorically denying any wrongdoing, the statement read, “Gupta or his companies are not involved in any manner in the Indo-French transaction for acquisition of 36 Rafale jets.”

It further said that it is preposterous to suggest that Gupta has any relevance or can exercise any influence on inter-governmental dealings or transactions and Guptas not and has never been a commercial agent in relation to defence deals, whether of Dassault or of any other entity.

The French news portal has alleged that the bulk of the payments were made before 2013. “According to an accounts spreadsheet belonging to Gupta, an entity called simply ‘D’, which is a code he regularly used to designate Dassault, paid euro 14.6 million to Interdev in Singapore over the period 2004-2013,” the report said. It said that Interdev was a shell company with no real activity, and administered by a straw man for the Gupta family.

The statement from Gupta’s legal team further stated that all transactions of Indian Avitronics are “legitimate contracts” and “duly disclosed” to concerned authorities. The statement further read that Gupta has never obtained or shared any classified government documents.

The legal team also said that Gupta does not have any companies or bank accounts outside India and has never had any offshore dealings with Dassault, Thales or Safran as alleged.

It further stated that there have been “no financial transactions” whatsoever of Gupta or his companies with ‘IDS’, Interdev or Interstellar.

The statement also read that Gupta has always fully cooperated with all investigative agencies.

The statement also said that the media reports appear to be based on material incorrectly and falsely attributed to Gupta.

“The credibility of both, the source, as well as materials submitted by the source, in the proceedings is currently under challenge before the Supreme Court as being false, self-serving and motivated,” it said.