Mystery Surrounds US Plane Spotted in Tehran

The Bank of Utah owns it, sort of, and things get murkier from there

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2014 6:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – The New York Times today digs into a mystery: What was a private plane with a very small American flag on its tail doing at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on Tuesday morning? As for who owns the plane, that would be the Bank of Utah—by proxy. The 13-branch community bank based in Ogden serves as trustee for investors with a financial stake in the aircraft. Beyond that fairly broad background, little is known, including why it was in a country that Americans are barred from doing business with. An exec for the bank tells the Times, "We have no idea why that plane was at that airport."

As the Times explains, the trust makes it difficult to get much beyond the bank from a paperwork perspective, as the bank is the only owner listed in the FAA's database for that plane—along, the Times discovered, with 1,168 other planes, a number that exceeds that of nearly all other banks. As for the FAA, it wasn't able to shine a light on who was at the controls or in the plane. Iranian officials with the UN are staying mum, and the Treasury Department office tasked with making sure sanctions are upheld—the office that would be the one that could grant an OK for the plane to land there—had no comment. One breadcrumb: The plane was spotted in Zurich around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, leading the Wire to suggest "that probably narrows the list down to 2,633 powerful people."

Mehrabad Airport in Tehran is shown.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, file)
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