Paris, 28 April 2021 — SHERPA, represented by its lawyers Maîtres William Bourdon and Vincent Brenghart, is filing a complaint and requesting the opening of a judicial investigation for corruption, favouritsm and various financial offences likely to have occurred in the context of the sale of 36 combat aircrafts produced by Dassault Aviation and sold to India in 2016.
A first complaint was lodged on 26 October 2018 in order to bring to the attention of the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) facts which, in our opinion, should have justified the opening of an investigation.
SHERPA outlined the troubled circumstances surrounding the negotiations and signing of a Franco-Indian agreement for the production and sale by Dassault Aviation of 36 Rafale aircrafts amounting to 7.8 billion euros. We questioned the conditions under which the historical operator in India has been pushed aside and the sudden appointment by Dassault Aviation of the Indian group RELIANCE, which in addition to having no experience in the aeronautical sector was facing important financial troubles and was headed by a man notoriously close to the Indian Prime Minister in office.
According to the latest articles published by MEDIAPART, no serious investigation have been carried out by the PNF, except for an informal interview with the lawyer of Dassault Aviation. The complaint was nonetheless dismissed in June 2019 for « absence of an offence ».
All the documentation gathered by SHERPA over the past two years, as well as the revelations made by Médiapart on the passivity of the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) following the discovery of suspicious payments by Dassault Aviation, hidden commissions and bribes paid to Indian intermediaries and the fate of anti-corruption clauses that have disappeared from the deal, are all elements showing the importance of opening an investigation.
These facts also highlight the flaws of an anti-corruption system that relies primarily on compliance and internal control. The Sapin 2 Law, which came into force in 2018, leaves too much leeway for the implementation of internal procedures in companies to fight corruption. According to Sandra Cossart, Executive Director of Sherpa, the present case is an example of the failure of this approach, which relies on a convergence of the private interests of the company and those of the general interest that the criminal law is supposed to protect.
Those latest revelations show to what extent the admissibility of associations to bring judicial actions before the courts is a central component of our democracy. By having the capacity to take legal action, NGOs can bring these cases out of the secrecy of the political-financial cenacle and shed light on these issues, which must not be kept from public debate.
Cabinet Bourdon & Associés, William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth
Chanez Mensous, Lawyer for illicit financial flows at SherpaLast modified: 28 April 2021