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In mid-November last year a pilot employed by the Gupta brothers, Ajay, Tony (Rajesh) and Atul, walked into the office of Robbie Irons, a director of the Oppenheimer family’s aviation company, Fireblade. The company had been bogged down in red tape for years in trying to get its seven-star airport terminal at OR Tambo declared a new international port of entry, a critical requirement for its profitability. Reasons for the delays seemed unfathomable, especially in light of approvals from dozens of state entities. Until the Gupta pilot pitched up. In court papers served on home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba last week, Irons outlines what he says the pilot told him.

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