Sanjay Bhandari, an accused arms dealer and “proclaimed offender” wanted in India on money laundering charges, has sued French defence firm Thales for 11 million euros (around Rs 92 crore) he claimed are owed to him as “commission” for a defence deal signed by India in 2011, British media has reported.

The deal in question is the 2.4 billion-euro contract Thales signed in 2011, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power, to upgrade Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force.

Bhandari, who currently lives in the UK and has reportedly sought asylum there, is said to have claimed before a commercial court near Paris that he was hired by Thales to help secure the contract.

In a report, British newspaper The Telegraph said: “Mr Bhandari alleges that from 2008 he helped Thales sell the upgrade of the Mirage jets by facilitating a meeting… He claims that he was due a consultancy fee of 20 million euros but was only paid 9 million euros.”

“Mr Bhandari alleges this was due to political factors in 2016 when he was close to the Indian Congress Party. At this time the ruing BJP party… started persecuting him, he claims. He fled to the UK where he is currently fighting extradition on unrelated matters and is claiming political asylum,” the report added.

Bhandari, 59, is sought by Indian authorities for alleged money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the Samsung-ONGC deal during the UPA era. Cases have been filed against him by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Bhandari’s claim assumes significance since Thales also supplies equipment to Dassault Aviation for its Rafale aircraft. India had in 2016 signed for the delivery of 36 of the jets.

According to the claim, Thales paid Bhandari through “an elaborate financial covert scheme in India and Dubai which enabled the payment of secret commissions to intermediaries. A special subsidiary called Thales Middle East & Africa is alleged to have been in charge of the deployment of these financial structures.”

According to a report in ThePrint, Thales has denied owing the amount mentioned to Bhandari. It quoted the firm as saying that it has “never signed a contract with Mr Bhandari or his companies in connection with this project”.

In the ongoing lawsuit, Bhandari has reportedly called himself a “well-known commercial intermediary involved in arms and defence in India”. He claimed to have “worked with major international defence companies to assist them in negotiating arms contracts with the Indian Ministry of Defence.”

Bhandari’s claims come weeks before his extradition hearing, scheduled for between February 21 and March 9.

Besides money laundering, Bhandari is accused of not declaring all his worldwide assets to the Indian tax authorities including covering up with “falsified documents” that he owned a property in the British Virgin Islands.