rafale deal: reliance infrastructure terms rahul's allegation 'blatant lies'

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MUMBAI: Reliance Infrastructure on Friday rejected allegations by Congress president Rahul Gandhi that Dassault Aviation invested Rs 284 crore in a "loss making" Indian company to secure the Rafale jet deal.

Reliance said the Congress was once again resorting to "blatant lies" and "distorted facts" to mount an "unwarranted campaign of calumny and falsehoods" against the Reliance Group and its chairman Anil Ambani.

A Reliance Infrastructure Ltd spokesperson said it was "deeply unfortunate" that the group and its chairman were continuously being dragged into a political battle ahead of the state and general elections.

It said that Dassault's investment in Reliance Airport Developers Ltd (RADL) had no link whatsoever with the Rafale contract between the Indian and French governments on a government-to-government basis where all 36 aircraft were to be exported by France.

"This investment is an independent arms-length transaction based on fair market valuation of the land and other assets of the company and the future business potential in the airports and related infrastructure sector," the release said.

"Congress attacks on Anil Ambani in his individual capacity are shameful and deplorable, especially as all transactions with Dassault have been made by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, a publicly listed company with over a million small shareholders, including more than 10 per cent ownership by public financial institutions such as LIC, GIC and other insurance companies and over 15 per cent ownership with reputed global institutional investors."

It said that Anil Ambani has not entered into any transactions personally with Dassault nor has he derived any personal benefit from any transactions.

The release said the RADL transaction was completed in full compliance with applicable FDI and all other regulations and the information was in the public domain since December 2017, nearly a year ago.

"The Congress has falsely alleged that the funds invested in RADL have been used for the purchase of land at Mihan, Nagpur, for the Dassault-Reliance 49:51 JV (joint venture)."

"It is clear that the Congress' consistent allegation that Anil Ambani has received contracts worth Rs 30,000 crore is a blatant attempt to mislead the public for their own political gains and is a concoction of lies.

"The Dassault investment in DRAL and RADL are two independent and stand alone business investments and in both cases funds have been received by the companies and not a single rupee by Anil Ambani in his personal capacity. Therefore, any suggestion of any payment to Anil Ambani is absolutely false and mischievous," the release said.

It said the payment for the land at Mihan was made from 2015 to 2017, much before the investment by Dassault in RADL.

Noting that RADL was a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and operates five regional airports in Maharashtra, the spokesperson said that RADL won these airports on a long-term lease of 95 years, by participating in a competitive bidding process conducted by the Maharashtra government in 2009 and the company holds 1,500 acres of prime land at strategic locations on a long-term lease of 95 years.

"Investment by Dassault Aviation in RADL, to acquire 34.8 per cent equity stake for Rs 309 crore, was made by way of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in September 2017 - nearly 14 months ago, in a transparent manner and in full compliance of applicable laws, keeping in view the management and development of Airport Infrastructure at five locations by RADL.

"Investment by Dassault Aviation was made at fair value arrived at by an Independent expert, as per RBI Guidelines. This FDI transaction was made in the equity of RADL, which is a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, a publicly listed company having over one million retail and institutional shareholders."

Reliance Infrastructure has an asset base of over Rs 100,700 crore and net worth of Rs 25,800 crore, the release said.

It said details of this transaction had been in public domain since 2017 including in the Reliance Infrastructure filings made with RBI and Dassault Aviation annual report.

"Based on the above facts, we hope all the falsehoods being spread continuously will be buried once and for all."

It said DRAL was located in Nagpur and manufacturing of components for the Falcon-2000 business jets has already begun. "To allege that Dassault investment in Reliance Airport Developers Ltd (RADL) was used to pay for this land is factually incorrect and preposterous.

"It is a blatant lie to state that land at Mihan was bought from funds provided by Dassault. The investment by Dassault in RADL and purchase of land by Reliance Infra for setting up a manufacturing facility for the JV are two different and independent/stand alone transactions."

It said the transaction relating to purchase of land was completed well before the investment by Dassault in RADL.

The spokesperson said Indian and French governments, Dassault and Reliance have clarified on multiple occasions that there is no offset contract for Rs 30,000 crore to Reliance, related to purchase of 36 aircraft.

It said the Indian Air Force (IAF) had stated that Dassault share of offsets was limited to Rs 6,500 crore.

"Reliance Defence is not executing any offsets. DRAL is one of the many Indian offset partners."

It said the Dassault CEO had said that the company had already signed up with 30 more Indian companies and discussions were under way with 70 others and that DRAL share in the offsets will be approximately 10 per cent.

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