Christian Michel, the alleged British middleman accused of bribing Indian politicians and officials in the 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, had been on the run from Indian authorities in the UAE for more than a year. India had put in an extradition request for Michel in March 2017.
Michel, 54, was arrested by the Dubai police then but he got bail, though his passport was seized. Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being investigated over charges of organising bribes to push the chopper deal in India when the Congress-led UPA was in power. The deal was for the purchase of 12 luxury choppers from AgustaWestland, for use by top leaders.
Initially, the UAE court had said the evidence against Michel by Indian authorities was flimsy. Indian agencies had an even tougher task, given that Michel was a UK national that India was seeking to extradite from a third country.
NDTV has learnt that about a year ago, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval set up a crack team of four officers led by CBI joint director Sai Manohar to work on bringing Michel to India. The team included the CBI and those from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
Michel fought back strongly in court in Dubai, arguing he could not be extradited since he was a British national. But in September, the court ruled he can be and his bail was revoked.
The Foreign Ministry was the third major agency at play. Sources have told NDTV that India was informed last week that Michel may be extradited on December 4. There was a court order on November 19, but action on it needed the approval of the UAE government.
Over the last year and a half, diplomatic pressure was used at various levels to push for Michel's extradition. Just three months ago, Indian intelligence agencies tipped off Dubai when Michel tried to escape, dressed in a skull cap and salwar kameez.
Sources, however, say Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to the UAE at the same time was a coincidence. The extradition process in court was already through.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the extradition at an election rally in Rajasthan and targeted the Gandhis, saying: " Who knows what secrets will tumble out once he starts talking."