France canceled in 2015 a tax recovery for a company owned by a businessman close to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi at the time when was negotiated the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India, said Saturday Le Monde .
A slate of 143 million euros cleared
France has canceled a tax recovery of a total amount of 143.7 million euros, yet claimed for years, in favor of a French company belonging to the group Reliance Communications, the Indian businessman Anil Ambani . "The dispute was settled between February and October 2015, at a time when India and France were negotiating the sale of thirty-six fighter planes," the paper said.
The French company Reliance Flag Atlantic France, owned by Anil Ambani, knew at the time of the facts "big financial worries" and its solvency was jeopardized by a large tax debt, according to the newspaper. It was subject to two tax adjustments totaling 151 million euros. A dispute finally settled by a payment of 7.6 million euros, a saving of 143.7 million euros in taxes.
An appointment with Emmanuel Macron?
The daily, quoting an internal Airbus email leaked in the Indian press, said that the Indian businessman, meanwhile a key player in the Rafale contract, met Monday, March 23, 2015, several advisers to the then Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, now Minister of Foreign Affairs. Le Monde also claims that a close associate of Anil Ambani boasted to the newspaper to have met with him, at the beginning of 2015, Emmanuel Macron in his office in Bercy, to settle the tax dispute .
The Relliance group denies
In a statement relayed by the Indian press, the group Reliance denied "any favoritism and benefit" from its agreement with the French tax authorities. It confirms that the tax dispute was settled by an agreement "within the legal framework accessible to all companies operating in France" on the settlement of 520 million rupees (7.2 million euros).
Solicited by AFP, the tax administration said "can not give information on a particular file without breaking the law." In late November 2018, the French NGO Sherpa, filed a complaint on suspicion of bribery and influence peddling surrounding the sale of Rafale to India in 2016 by Dassault Aviation. The organization denounces in particular the conditions that surrounded the choice of its Indian partner, Reliance.