U.S. Probes Aercap Over Sanctions-Busting Sale of Jets to Iran

Aercap Holdings NV, the world’s biggest aircraft lessor, said it’s cooperating with a U.S. investigation into the supply of Airbus Group NV jetliners to Iran and that it previously sold some of the nine planes concerned.

The aircraft were purchased by Tehran-based Mahan Air from Al-Naser Airlines of Iraq, which appears to have sourced two of them from Aercap, the lessor said in a filing, adding that it is assisting in the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control-led probe.

OFAC on May 21 designated Al-Naser and United Arab Emirates-based Sky Blue Bird Aviation as sanctions violators over the supply of the nine aircraft to Iran.

“There is no indication that the company or any of its employees were aware of any such diversion,” Aercap said, citing an internal review. “The company is fully cooperating with the investigations, which are in their early stages.”

Aercap, based at Schiphol in the Netherlands, said today it was subpoenaed by OFAC on May 27 for information including any related to other transactions that may have led to aircraft being diverted to Iran.

Sanctions imposed by the U.S., European Union and United Nations remain in place as world powers seek to negotiate a deal to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Calls to Sky Blue Bird, owned by Syrian businessman Issam Shammout, weren’t answered. The lessor and charter carrier, based in Ras Al Khaimah, isn’t known to RAK Airport authorities, Mohammed Qazi, the hub’s chief, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Its license in the RAK Freezone expired a year ago.

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