On Sunday, French publication Mediapart reported that French aviation firm Dassault allegedly paid at least 7.5 million euros (equivalent to almost Rs 650 million) to a middleman to secure the sale of Rafale fighter aircraft to the Indian government. The money was purportedly paid via shell companies and bogus bills

In this latest eruption in the Rafale controversy, both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress party have pointed fingers at each other and at the middleman concerned, a man named Sushen Gupta.

While the Congress has accused the BJP of not initiating a probe despite having evidence that Sushen Gupta received secret money from Dassault, the BJP has accused the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government of “collecting kickbacks” through intermediary Sushen Gupta.


Sushen Mohan Gupta, a 46-year-old businessman, comes from a family that has deep ties with India’s defence and aviation industry.

Residing in Old Delhi, the Gupta family was originally in the clothing business before Brij Mohan Gupta, grandfather of Sushen Gupta, entered the world of aviation. Through his intermediary Indian Avitronics, Brij Mohan Gupta ensured contracts with several international defence and aviation players.

Back in the 1980s, their clients included aero-engine manufacturers Pratt and Whitney (used in various civilian and military aircraft), aviation seating and simulators company Recaro and former British aviation manufacturers Westland Aircrafts.

This family business was carried forward by Brij Mohan Gupta's son Dev. Sushen Gupta is the third-generation proprietor of the business, who looked to expand into other fields.


A resident of Civil Lines in Delhi, Sushen Gupta completed his early education at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. He later went to the United States for higher education, where he studied mechanical engineering and industrial management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He later joined the family-run businesses and also expanded into other areas such as hospitality and power.

Sushen Gupta has been connected with two key players in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam of 2010 - lawyer Gautam Khaitan and Dubai-based businessman Rajiv Saxena. Gautam Khaitan's father OP Khaitan was the Gupta family's lawyer. As per a statement given in court, Sushen Gupta met Rajiv Saxena through OP Khaitan. All three of them - Sushen Gupta, Gautam Khaitan and Rajiv Saxena - were arrested during the investigation into the AgustaWestland chopper deal. Sushen Gupta was later released on conditional bail by a Delhi court.

As per the latest Mediapart report, Sushen Gupta allegedly made use of his well-established multinational network of shell companies, which was used during the AgustaWestland chopper deal, to receive kickbacks from Dassault Aviation in the Rafale deal.


In 2007, India had sought to acquire 126 fighter aircraft through the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, a deal which Dassault finally sealed after emerging as the lowest bidder. However, negotiations between the Indian government and the French company lasted for years without an agreement.

Eventually, in 2016, Dassault received a contract to supply 36 Rafale aircrafts for an estimated price of 7.8 billion euros in a government-to-government deal. An earlier report by French publication Mediapart stated that Sushen Gupta had access to confidential information on the Indian side’s negotiation strategy, even during the final stages of the Indo-French deal that should have been a closely guarded secret.