Sanjay Bhandari claimed that he was hired by Thales to secure a €2.4bn contract to upgrade Mirage-2000 military aircraft for the Indian Air Force

Fugitive arms dealer and Robert Vadra's close-aide Sanjay Bhandari has sued a French arms company in a French court over €11m (Rs 92 crore) that he claimed was never paid to him in relation to a defence deal inked in India in 2011. The claims against Thales that supplies avionics equipment for Dassault Aviation's Rafale jet, could imperil a much-needed French defence deal to India.

Bhandari claimed that he was hired by Thales to secure a €2.4bn contract to upgrade Mirage-2000 military aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The contract was signed in 2011. He has claimed that Thales had hired him to facilitate a meeting with then Defence Secretary KP Singh with €20m consultancy free but was only paid €9m.

His remarks come at a time when Thales and a French consortium is negotiating with India to sell more Rafale jets. The talks are currently at a very delicate stage.

Thales Rejects Claims Regarding Sums And Payment

However, Thales has denied claims made by Bhandari. The French arms company also claimed that it had never signed a contract with the fugitive arms dealer or his firms in connection with the abovementioned deal.

Speaking to Republic. a spokesperson from a French arms company said, "Mr Bhandari filed a petition against Thales SA in a commercial court in June 2021 for the settlement of sums allegedly due to him on an aeronautical modernisation project.

Thales firmly denies the claims by Mr Sanjay Bhandari regarding the sums allegedly due or any other payments to him by Thales SA. Thales has never signed a contract with Mr Bhandari or his companies in connection with this project. Thales complies with the law and applies a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and influence peddling. The Group’s integrity programme is regularly evaluated and amended to reflect changes in applicable legislation and best practices.”

Fugitive Middleman Sanjay Bhandari's Extradition Hearing On February 21

Bhandari who is wanted in India under the Officials Secrets Act (OSA), has also applied for political asylum in Britain. He is also wanted by the Enforcement Directorate on the charges of money laundering. The ED had filed a chargesheet against him in connection with a tax evasion case in the purchase of a London-based property worth 1.9 million pounds.

The London property was alleged brought by Bhandari and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses on the renovation. Meanwhile, Bhandari's extradition hearing will begin in London on February 21.