Mystery N-Registered Bizjet in Iran

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Despite strict economic sanctions in place against Iran, a U.S.-registered Bombardier Challenger, N604EP, was spotted on the ramp at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran earlier this week. Who is traveling in it and who is flying it are mysteries as the jet is registered to the Bank of Utah as trustee for the investors who have a financial stake in the airplane. The Bank of Utah is shown as the trustee for over 1000 aircraft on the federal aircraft registry. The New York Times is reporting that it interviewed a Bank of Utah executive, Brett King, who explained about its ownership as trustee and said that the bank has no idea why the airplane was in Tehran and that it was investigating further. Iranian officials have declined to comment on the purpose of the jet’s visit or the identities of the occupants, as has the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the government’s primary enforcer of sanctions against Iran.

With “plane spotting” especially popular outside the U.S., and enthusiasts posting images of arrivals and departures of aircraft, it is no surprise that N604EP has been tracked, with reports of it in Zurich near the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last January and departing from London for Ghana last October. Of course speculation is rife that a single financial mover and shaker is behind the flights to Iran, Switzerland and Ghana, there is currently no information as to the occupants on each. The open presence of the jet is an indication that its flight was approved as part of a legitimate business trip; plus it is said that an easily identifiable aircraft is unlikely to be part of a diplomatic mission. King went on to say that “The Bank of Utah is very conservative, and located in the conservative state of Utah. If there is any hint of illegal activity, we are going to find out and see whether we need to resign as trustee.”