New Delhi: Stepping up its attack on the BJP-led government, the Congress on Saturday accused Anil Ambani’s Reliance for getting a special benefit from the French government in the form of the tax settlement days after the deal for the Rafale fighter jets was signed. Ministry of Defence and Reliance group were quick to issue rebuttals on the allegations saying connections drawn between the tax issue and the Rafale matter is “inaccurate, tendentious and a mischievous attempt to disinform.”
Responding to the Congress allegation, the Defence Ministry said: “We have seen reports drawing a conjectural connection between tax exemption to a private company and procurement of Rafale fighter jets by Government of India. Neither the period of the tax concession nor the subject matter of the concession relate even remotely to the Rafale procurement concluded during the tenure of the present Government.
Any connections drawn between the tax issue and the Rafale matter is totally inaccurate, tendentious and is a mischievous attempt to disinform.” Quoting French newspaper, Le Monde, at a media conference here, senior party leader and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “Between February and October 2015, while the French were negotiating the Rafale contract with India, Anil Ambani enjoyed a tax waiver of 143.7 million euros from the French state.”
“The French tax authorities who had earlier demanded close to 150 million euros from the Reliance-owned company, Reliance Atlantic Flag France, agreed to settle the matter with just 7.5 million euros, the rest of the demand was simply waved, and this is Le Monde’s claim, not mine,” said Surjewala.
“Layers of connivance, crony capitalism and corruption are now getting unveiled. As soon as Modiji came to power he scrapped the deal signed by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for 126 Rafale jets at Rs 526 crore per unit with a transfer of technology clause. Then he went to France and announced that Made in France Rafales will now be purchased at Rs 1600 crore per unit,” he said.
He also stated that former French President Francois Hollande had claimed that excluding Rafale and bringing in Reliance Group was done as per the wishes of the Indian government. “As soon as the deal was signed the Modi government transferred 70 per cent of the deal amount (Rs 50,000 crores approximately) to Dassault Aviation as advance payment, this same amount was invested by Dassault in AA’s (Anil Ambani) company by Dassault. This is how Modi kripa works,” said Surjewala.
Responding to the allegations, Reliance Communications released a statement denying any “favouritism or gain” from French authorities. The tax demands were completely “unsustainable and illegal” the statement said, and claimed that tax disputes were settled “as per legal framework in France available to all companies operating in France.” Reliance Communications said that between 2008 and 2012, Flag France had an operating loss of Rs 20 crore (EUR2.7 million) while the French tax authorities had raised a tax demand of over Rs 1,100 crore for the same period. “A mutual settlement agreement was signed to pay Rs 56 crore as a final settlement,” it said.