Speaking to Peacefmonline.com, Owusu Bempah stated emphatically that President Mahama cannot deny knowledge of his involvement in the allegations leveled against the country since he was seen at various locations that the US registered Bombardier Challenger, N604EP landed.
The US has begun investigations into the case because according to them, Iran is under strict international economic sanctions.
According to Owusu Bempah, “if anybody tells you that the President does not know anything about what is going on, it’s a lie. It’s a blatant lie. The President knows something about it. So, he should come out and tell the whole world about what he knows about it before some of us, come out and expose him.”
“...anytime the President travels anywhere in the world, that plane (US jet); the so-called plane that belongs to his brother will travel two days ahead of time and lay the foundation before the President gets there," he added.
The NDP firebrand therefore sought to know the mission of the President's younger brother Ibrahim Mahama and the topnotch Ghanaian business delegation to Iran on the blind side of the nation and the US authorities.
“Why would he introduce his brother to top businessmen in all those countries that he’s doing those businesses in the name of Ghana?” he questioned.
Story and comments/reaction: http://elections.peacefmonline.com
|Michael Omari Wadie|
A report by the New York Times over the weekend stated that a US flagged plane owned by a small community bank in Utah mysteriously parked at Tehran’s airport in Iran. The report further stated the said plane had been leased by a Ghanaian mining company, Engineers and Planners, owned by President John Mahama’s brother.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry is also reported to have claimed that the plane had been used to transport top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries.
The report sparked a storm in a tea-cup as critics believe Ghana breached international aviation rules because the plane is said to have landed without approval.
Government has vehemently denied any ties with the US plane, and has described the New York Times report as speculative; adding that the President has never used the plane in question.
But reacting to the government's denial on Okay Fm’s Ghana Decides program, Omari Wadie posited that the stance of the NDC government gives room to suggest that Engineers and Planners’ plane carried some fraudsters to Iran posing as top Ghanaian officials.
He added that the speculation has aggravated as a result of the fact that the purpose of the visit to Iran remain unknown to Ghanaians.
“The Iran Foreign Minister who received the delegation said they were top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries...how come the NDC is now saying there were no government officials among the delegation?......Or were they 419 people carried out to Iran?....that means the plane carried some 419 people to Iran who posed as top Ghanaian officials; is Engineers and Planners now a 419 company which carry people pretending to be top Ghanaian officials?” he quizzed.
Story and comments/reaction: http://elections.peacefmonline.com
Bombardier Challenger, N604EP jet which nearly caused a diplomatic furore following its landing in Iran. Bombardier Challenger 604, N604EP: Mystery Plane and Lessons Learned for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act -National Law Review
Conrad Shawn Kee
Jackson Lewis P.C.
posted on: Thursday, April 24, 2014
A few days ago, the New York Times printed a photo of an U.S. registered Bombardier Challenger private jet at the Tehran airport that turned out to be registered to the Bank of Utah, a small community bank in Ogden, Utah, that apparently holds the trust certificates for many aircraft. Later, it was reported that the plane may be owned by Engineers & Planners Company Ltd., a Ghanaian mining services company whose CEO is the brother of the Ghanaian President. More recently, the reports say the plane was used by Ghanaian officials to travel to Iran.
The story highlights risks under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Some stories suggest an unnamed U.S. mining company has a long-term charter on the aircraft. If so, it appears the U.S. mining company is obtaining services from a company controlled by the Ghanaian President. This situation highlights at least three parts of an effective compliance program: due diligence on third-party vendors, internal investigations and training.
A long-term charter of a private jet from a company controlled by the relative of a government official obviously presents risks under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act and other anti-corruption laws. Recent guidance from the DOJ and SEC in the U.S. and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK make clear that due diligence is particularly important in these circumstances. For example, determining the ownership, assessing the business rationale of chartering the jet from this particular company, and evaluating the terms of the transaction are critical to protecting the company from potential criminal charges.
When a company becomes aware of a potential issue, it’s important to promptly conduct an internal investigation to determine the facts. As the DOJ and SEC recently suggested in their published FCPA resource guide, “companies should have in place an efficient, reliable, and properly funded process for investigating the allegation and documenting the company’s response, including any disciplinary or remediation measures taken.”
Once an investigation is concluded, it’s important to consider lessons learned. Were policies followed? Was the policy clear? Were employees trained? What remedial measures do we need to take? The company also should consider whether to self-report to the DOJ. By swiftly investigating to determine whether there was an issue, taking appropriate internal action, and self-reporting to the DOJ, SFO or other government agencies, the company may avoid prosecution or mitigate penalties.
Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2014
Kweku Baako reveals government official on US flagged plane
Brouhaha over a US-flagged private jet said to belong to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, brother of President John Dramani Mahama which landed in Iran with a business delegation without approval seems to linger on.
Iran had said that the plane, which landed in Tehran last week, was leased to the office of Ghana’s President, and carrying a business delegation from the West African nation.
Tehran’s comments came after The New York Times reported on Thursday that a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran on Tuesday.
It was later reported that the plane was leased to Engineers and Planners (E&P), a mining firm founded by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of Ghana’s President.
The presence of an American plane in Iran was striking as Washington and Tehran have been caught up in a longstanding diplomatic standoff for decades, and the Islamic Republic is under a number of economic sanctions.
On Friday, Iran’s State news agency, IRNA, quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, as saying that the plane was transporting Ibrahim Mahama, the brother of Ghana’s President and a mining delegation.
“The plane is on lease to Ghana’s presidential office, and its passengers were Ghanaian senior officials led by the president’s brother. None of its crew members were American,” Afkham was quoted as saying.
He also added that the “Ghanaian senior officials” were in Tehran to follow up on agreements reached between the two countries two years ago.
There are widespread reports that there was a government appointee on board the private jet, government communicators as well as the Information Ministry, refused to disclose his or her name.
But contributing to a panel discussion on ‘Kokrokoo,' Kweku Baako found it surprising that government officials are shunning away from disclosing such information because to him, ‘it is no secret’.
He said the Manifest of an airplane is there for everybody to see and “so even if government officials do not say anything, anybody can walk in and get such information” and he mentioned Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, Minister of State in charge of Development and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso East as the government official on the private jet.
“What is the secret about this? There should be no effort to hide the people on the plane. He is a public figure and so I don’t see why he should be hidden. He was on the plane, but it was not for an official visit. The Iranians have even constructed a hospital in his constitution and so he already has a relationship with the Iranian government,” he stated.
Kweku Baako also added that to help end the controversy, it will be in the interest of Dr. Mustapha Ahmed to speak to the issue and clear the air.
“It is not a big deal. Ghana has no obligation to follow the US sanctions against the Iranians. It is a storm in a tea cup,” he added.
Story and comments/reaction: http://www.ghanaweb.com
N604EP Mystery Solved: ‘It’s much ado about nothing’- Says Engineers & Planners
The mystery of a US Flagged plane spotted at a Tehran airport last week and reported on by the New York Times has apparently been solved.
The US-registered Bombardier corporate jet, carrying the registration number N604EP, is owned and operated by a Ghana-based engineering firm, an aviation expert said Friday. The visitors it brought to Iran last week were senior Ghanaian officials, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday.
The plane was chartered by Ghanaian officials, no American was on board, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told Iranian media Friday, journalist MojtabaMousavi and Shargh newspaper reported.
Tyler Bowron, an aviation expert at Cerretanni Aviation group in Boulder, Colorado, told Al-Monitor that the company that in fact owns and operates the plane is called Engineers and Planners, based in Accra, Ghana.
The Ghana firm “owns and operates” the plane, Bowron told Al-Monitor. Bank of Utah, which is listed on Federal Aviation Administration records as the trustee for the 22-seat corporate jet, “is just the trustee,” Bowron said. “They have nothing to do with it.”
The New York Times first reported Thursday on the mystery of the US “N-registered” plane seen by the paper at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on Tuesday. The Blaze first reported Bowron’s identification of the Ghana firm that owns and operates the plane.
A Bank of Utah spokesperson said the bank was solely acting as a trustee for the airplane’s real owner.
“Bank of Utah… acts as trustee for aircraft of behalf of the beneficiary,” Scott H. Parkinson, senior vice president for marketing at the Bank of Utah, told Al-Monitor by email Friday. “The Bank has no operational control, financial exposure and is not a lender for this transaction.”
“The Bank’s trust agreements do not allow aircraft be used in any illegal activity,” Parkinson said.
International law experts said the US-registered plane, even if owned by a foreign entity, would have probably required a temporary sojourn license from the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to legally visit Iran. US officials declined to comment Friday on the specific facts of this case.
“We can’t comment on license applications or requests,” a Treasury Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor Friday.
U.S. Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”) prohibit the exportation of goods, services or technology directly or indirectly from the United States or by a U.S. person to Iran, and would generally prevent U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran.
“A determination as to whether a violation of the ITSR has occurred is fact specific,” a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, said.
The Ghana firm said to own the plane, Engineers and Planners, “was formed in 1997 to provide mining, construction and engineering services to the many mining companies that were setting up in Ghana at the time,” the firm said in a 2012 statement concerning a plane it had acquired and would offer for lease.
“Recently, the company has entered into an agreement with an American Company to provide it with air services using a challenger 600 aircraft,” the company statement continued. “The arrangement makes the aircraft commercially available for rental by mining companies, oil service companies and other corporate institutions when not in use by Engineers and Planners.”
The company press statement identified its CEO as Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of Ghana’s then-Vice President H.E. John DramaniMahama, who became Ghana’s president in July, 2012.
Engineers and Planner’s listed executive director, AdiAyitevie, previously served as procurement manager at a Maryland-based firm, MNM Communications, that received several U.S. government contracts to provide construction services at US embassies abroad and domestic facilities, including the FBI academy at Quantico, according to his Linkedin bio and the firm’s client list.
Iranian and Ghanaian officials have in meetings over the past year proclaimed mutual interest in cooperating on mining and other economic development projects, media reports show.
It is common for foreign entities to acquire US “N-registered” aircraft, using trusteeships such as those provided by the Bank of Utah, that conceal the owner’s identity, aviation and legal experts said.
Meanwhile, Engineers & Planners (E&P) says it has not breached any international aviation rules regarding a Bombardier jet aircraft it operates which landed in Iran without approval.
A statement signed by the Executive Director of Engineers and Planners, Mr. Adi Ayitevie said, ”our attention has been drawn to a number of articles circulating in both the international and local media regarding a Bombardier jet aircraft we operated in Ghana.”
The statement added that the said aircraft only transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and has since returned to Ghana.
”The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws,” it said.
The statement also disputed claims by the New York Times Newspaper that President Mahama was once transported by the said aircraft.
”We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft,” the E&P statement noted.
Story and comments/reaction: http://www.ghanaweb.com
SALT LAKE CITY April 22, 2014 (AP)
By MICHELLE L. PRICE -Associated Press
A Utah bank confirmed Tuesday that an airplane registered to the bank was used by a Ghana mining company to take Ghanaian businessmen to Iran last week.
The New York Times published a story last week revealing the presence of the plane, which had a small American flag on the tail, in Iran.
Aviation records show the plane is registered to the Bank of Utah through an arrangement in which the bank serves as a trustee for aircraft owners.
Except for some approved activities by the U.S. Department of Treasury, federal regulations prohibit most economic activity between the U.S. and Iran. The Treasury Department said in a statement Tuesday that sanctions on Iran generally prevent U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to that country. Determining if a violation "has occurred is fact specific, and Treasury is unable to comment on this situation," the statement said.
Scott Parkinson, senior vice president for marketing and communication with the Ogden-based bank, confirmed Tuesday morning that the Ghana company Engineers & Planners had been using the Bombardier CL-600.
Parkinson said the Bank of Utah has been cooperating with the State Department and other federal agencies since the plane was spotted in Iran but wouldn't comment further about what those agencies are looking at or to what degree they are investigating.
Engineers & Planners said in a statement Saturday that the plane's trip did not violate any international aviation laws.
The company's chief executive is Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of Ghanaian President John Mahama.
While the company has said the passengers on the flight were businessmen, initial reports were that it was carrying a governmental delegation, and an anti-corruption group, Ghana Integrity Initiative, has asked the government to explain.
Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, the deputy minister of information, denied on Ghanaian radio Tuesday that the government had sent a delegation to Iran and added that it had not leased any plane from the company.
Parkinson said his bank, which offers aviation ownership trusts as one part of its business, has no reason to believe there's a problem with their trust agreement for this specific aircraft.
"Of course we're looking at all of our policies regarding this, but we're pretty confident that what we've done is appropriate," he said.
The aviation trust arrangements have prompted two warnings from a government watchdog in the past year.
A government watchdog warned last June and again in January that non-U.S. citizens have registered 5,600 planes with the Federal Aviation Administration through trustees, concealing the owners' identities.
Under FAA regulations, this can be done by the owner creating an agreement to transfer the plane's title to a trustee that is a U.S. citizen. The trustee then registers the plane. The agreements provide little information on the identity of the owner or who uses the plane, according to a memorandum by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General.
On Friday, Parkinson said his bank performs due diligence required by regulators in terms of aircraft ownership and its trust agreements make it clear that the bank does not permit any illegal activity.
FAA regulations don't require trustees to identify aircraft owners or operators as a condition of registration. The FAA recently updated its policies to require trustees to produce this information, but only within 48 hours of an FAA request, the memorandum said.
The FAA has at times experienced problems identifying owners and operators of U.S. registered planes involved in accidents or incidents, the memo said.
Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report. Francis Kokutse reported from Accra, Ghana.
No Gov’t official used E&P jet – Kwakye Ofosu
The Government of Ghana has denied claims by a pressure group that some government officials used a private jet belonging to private mining firm, Engineers & Planners – a company with affiliations to the president’s brother.
Ghanaians for a Better Government had insisted in a press statement that the U.S.-flagged plane that landed in Tehran and was traced to E&P, ferried top government officials to Iran, and not a business delegation as claimed by the jet’s operators, (E&P).
A statement issued at the weekend by E&P, signed by Executive Director Adi Ayitevie, also denied rumours that the jet ferried President Mahama to certain locations.
“We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft,” E&P said. Ghanaians for a Better Government however said the explanation offered by E&P is at variance with information divulged by the Iranian government regarding the calibre of people who used the plane.
Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Felix Kwakye Ofosu told XYZ Breakfast show host Moro Awudu on Tuesday that the explanation and clarification offered by E&P should settle the matter.
He denied categorically that officials of the Government of Ghana ever travelled on the Bombadier for to Iran for any official purpose.
“Engineers and planners had issued a statement in which they clarified the issues. They state without fear of equivocation that the President has never travelled on the Engineers and Planners jet. Secondly Government has not sent any delegation that has travelled in that jet to Iran and I believe that should end the matter.”
Mr Kwakey Ofosu accused the pressure group of pursuing the agenda of the main opposition New Patriotic Party. “That group is nothing more than another appendage of the NPP. All the members of that group are known NPP activists and so they don’t fool anybody at all.”
Story and comments/reaction: http://www.ghanaweb.com
N604EP Saga: Group accuses presidency of conflict of interest
A pressure group insists a U.S.-flagged plane that landed in Tehran and was traced to private mining firm, Engineers & Planners (E&P) – a company affiliated to President John Mahama’s brother, Ibrahim Mahama – ferried top government officials to Iran, and not a business delegation as claimed by the jet’s operators (E&P).
Ghanaians for a Better Government, in a statement, expressed “worry and reservations” about the “dodgy, dark and clandestine” circumstances surrounding the plane’s use.
The group said its major concern is in connection with the “blatant conflict of interest”, in that, the President allowed “government to hire for official functions, a private jet acquired by his brother.”
The landing of the U.S.-flagged Bombadier in Tehran caught the eyes of the international media last week.
According to the New York Times, the plane - held in trust by a small US community bank, the Bank of Utah - landed in Tehran without permission, but a statement issued by E&P clarified that: “The said aircraft transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and has since returned to Ghana,” adding that: “The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws.”
The E&P statement signed by Executive Director Adi Ayitevie also denied rumours that the jet ferried President Mahama to certain locations.
“We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft.”
Ghanaians for a Better Government however says the explanation offered by E&P is at variance with information divulged by the Iranian government regarding the calibre of people who used the plane.
“We are calling on government to come clean and clarify the obvious contradiction between an official statement issued by the Iranian government Friday that the plane carried Ghana government officials to Tehran for official meetings with the government of Iran, and a statement subsequently issued by the company of President Mahama’s brother that the plane only carried a group of business people from Ghana,” the group demanded.
The group quoted the New York Times as having said: “Iran’s Foreign Ministry, bombarded with questions over why an American plane was parked at the airport [Tehran], said on Friday that the plane had been used to transport top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries.”
The statement, jointly signed by David Asante, Spokesperson; and members John Hall and Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe, said: “Indeed, according to Iranian news agencies, the Spokeswoman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Marzieh Afkhan, stated emphatically that: “This plane was carrying a high-ranking delegation from Ghana and according to an announcement by the country’s government, the jet was in possession of the US, and chartered by Ghana’s presidency.”
Story and comments/reaction: http://www.ghanaweb.com
Iran reacts to news on landing of American plane in Tehran
Tehran, Apr 19, IRNA – Foreign Ministry spokeswoman reacting to broadcasted news on landing of an American plane in Tehranˈs Mehrabad Airport said on Friday that the US plane was chartered by Ghana Presidential Office and was carrying a high ranking Ghanaian delegation.
Read more here: http://www.irna.ir
By Drew Hinshaw And Tom McGinty
The Wall Street Journal
April 18, 2014 4:28 p.m. ET
ACCRA, Ghana—A U.S.-registered jet that reportedly landed in Iran, sparking a mystery over its intent in the heavily sanctioned country, is operated by a Ghanaian mining contractor, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The New York Times reported on Friday that a corporate jet with a small American flag was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, saying that the Bank of Utah was its owner. It also reported the bank acted as a trustee for investors in the plane.
Documents show that the tiny bank is only holding the jet in trust to "ensure the eligibility of the aircraft for U.S. registration with the Federal Aviation Administration," according to a contract seen by The Journal.
The firm operating the plane, according to that contract, is Engineers & Planners Company Ltd.—a Ghanaian contractor whose chief executive, Ibrahim Mahama, is the younger brother of Ghana's president, John Mahama.
Engineers & Planners, whose website says it services mining companies, didn't respond immediately to emails and calls to its office phone didn't connect. It wasn't clear whether Ghana would be in violation of any Western sanctions against Iran
The Bank of Utah—which lists only 13 branches on its website—said it "has no operational control, financial exposure and is not a lender" for the jet.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Friday that U.S. sanctions regulations "would generally prohibit U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran," but that it was up to the Treasury Department to determine if violations of sanctions rules had occurred. Treasury wasn't immediately available for comment.
No one has accused the bank of violating any U.S. sanctions against Iran in relation to the country's nuclear program.
An Iranian aviation official dismissed reports that an American plane landed in Tehran, according to the semiofficial Tehran Times.
The episode marks another chapter in the storied life of what appears to be the same Challenger 600 jet that has been both celebrated as a symbol of Africa's new jet setting class and made into a lightning rod for allegations of political extravagance in Ghana.
Engineers & Planners began operating the plane in June 2012, according to a company statement posted to independent local news website Modern Ghana at the time.
That was a season of hot politics in Ghana, one of Africa's most closely-contested democracies. President Mahama was at the time vice president, and the most public face of a party fighting for re-election.
Radio reports of his brother flying around in a private jet became the subject of a small political dispute in a country where most people are far too poor to afford air travel.
"We wish to emphatically state that the aircraft has no association direct or indirect with the Vice President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, who incidentally happens to be the elder brother of our Chief Executive Officer," said the 2012 company statement.
Meanwhile, others at the time reveled in the plane's arrival as testimony to the wealth creeping into this small, West African nation.
"His private jet is soooooo telling of where we Ghanaians are at right now," wrote Ghana Rising, a blog that catalogs the country's growing spending power and haute culture. "Can't we at least start to celebrate some of the yummy prosperity and stuff going on in our Ghana?"
Despite complex trade rules against doing business with Iran, a corporate jet with a small American flag turned up in Tehran.
The New York Times
By MICHAEL CORKERY, JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and THOMAS ERDBRINKA
APRIL 17, 2014
President Obama has warned that Iran is not open for business, even as the United States has loosened some of its punishing economic sanctions as part of an interim nuclear pact.
Yet, on Tuesday morning, Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden that has 13 branches throughout the state. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.
But from there, the story surrounding the plane, and why it was in Iran — where all but a few United States and European business activities are prohibited — grows more mysterious.
While federal aviation records show the plane is held in a trust by the Bank of Utah, Brett King, one of its executives in Salt Lake City, said, “We have no idea why that plane was at that airport.”
He said that the Bank of Utah acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane and that the bank was investigating further.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had no information about the investors in the aircraft or who was operating it. Officials waiting at the gangway at Mehrabad Airport said only that the aircraft was “V.I.P.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the federal government’s primary enforcer of sanctions against Iran, declined to comment on the plane’s presence there. Under United States law, any American aircraft would usually need prior approval from the department to go to Iran without violating a complicated patchwork of rules governing trade.
In the case of this particular aircraft, powered by engines made by General Electric, the Commerce Department typically would have to grant its own clearance for American-made parts to touch down on Iranian soil.
Iranian officials also declined to comment on the purpose of the plane’s visit or passengers’ identities. A spokesman for Iran’s United Nations mission in New York, Hamid Babaei, said: “We don’t have any information in this regard. I refer you to the owner.”
The tracking of planes has become a kind of global sport, as largely amateur photographers post thousands of images showing arrivals and departures in their attempts to chronicle flight paths. In the case of this plane, for example, one spotter spied it leaving an airport in Zurich around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, held in January. Another photographer tracked the plane, identified by its call letters N604EP on the tail engines, departing a London-area airport for Ghana last October.
But this week’s spotting by a New York Times reporter in Tehran carries particular intrigue because it involves Iran, a country still effectively shunned by the global financial system.
Even some former federal officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the very presence of an American-flagged aircraft parked in broad daylight suggested its flight had been approved as part of a legitimate business trip. What is more, they said, the easily identifiable plane was not likely to be part of a covert diplomatic mission.
The secrecy surrounding the plane is compounded by federal aviation regulations that can make it virtually impossible to determine who was flying it.
The private plane, like thousands of similar ones, is owned through a trust — a complex legal structure often established to help foreign individuals or corporations invest in planes that can fly freely within the United States. Aside from that benefit, the structure enables investors and operators to remain largely anonymous to the public. The trustee — in this case, the Bank of Utah — is the sole entity recorded as owner in a vast database maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Bank of Utah is listed as a trustee for 1,169 aircraft, ranging from Boeing 747s to single-engine Cessnas, according to a review by The New York Times of the database. The Bank of Utah acts as a trustee for more planes than just about any other bank, the review shows.
Mr. King, who helps run the bank’s trust services business, said the bank had no “operational control” or “financial exposure” to any of the planes.
He said he was not allowed to disclose the identity of the plane’s investors. “As fiduciary, we must keep information confidential when it comes to the beneficiary,” Mr. King said.
While the trusts allow celebrities and corporate executives to travel discreetly, they also help obscure who is operating vast fleets of aircraft and why.
The shadowy role of American banks in private aircraft ownership has grown even as financial regulators work to shine a light on Wall Street’s activities, a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis.
Bank dealings with Iran in particular are subject to extraordinary scrutiny by the United States government, part of a broader crackdown on the flow of money to foreign countries and individuals that American officials say is tied to terrorism.
The British bank HSBC, for example, reached a record $1.92 billion settlement with federal authorities in 2012 to resolve accusations that it funneled billions of dollars on behalf of Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move tainted money through its United States subsidiaries.
Even before the current sanctions, American aircraft rarely landed in the country. The animosity between the two countries has grown so intense that even the occasional emergency landing by a United States commercial airliner sets off a flurry of speculative news reports.
For his part, Mr. King said Thursday in an interview that he was trying to get to the bottom of the aircraft’s presence in Tehran. “The Bank of Utah is very conservative, and located in the conservative state of Utah,” he said. “If there is any hint of illegal activity, we are going to find out and see whether we need to resign” as trustee.
Story and photo: http://www.nytimes.com