With US prosecutors seeking to recover assets amidst the ongoing legal proceedings related to the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange, two luxury aircraft could be the next target.
The said jets are purportedly owned by Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, but were never used by him and they could now face forfeiture.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a filing on Wednesday, which provided details about the jets in question that were listed as part of the assets owned by Sam Bankman-Fried.
One of them is a Bombardier Global 5000 BD-700-1A11 that has a registration number N410AT, while the other is an Embraer Legacy EMB-135BJ that has a registration number C6-BDE.
However, a charter flight operator based in the Bahamas named Island Air Capital has claimed the jets as its own.
According to the company, it bought the two jets for $15.9 million and $12.5 million, respectively, with FTX financing the purchase.
The primary dispute is about the funds that were used for the purchase. According to the government, the funds used were obtained via alleged fraudulent activities.
But, FTX has claimed legitimate ownership of the aircrafts, stating that the acquisitions were financed by the loans it had taken.
On September 21st, IAC submitted a filing with the US bankruptcy court in Delaware in which it said that it owned the two airplanes, which they had bought with the financing FTX provided.
It said that the loan they had been given was no interest and unsecured and had been agreed upon in a handshake deal between Mr. Aranha, IAC’s beneficial owner, and Sam Bankman-Fried.
According to court filings, the purchases had been made last year in March and August, respectively. IAC has said that Aranha had gotten approval from FTX for buying both aircraft.
The deposits had been wired directly into Escrow and had originated from North Dimension and Alameda Research.
IAC also mentioned in the court filings that Aranha had not been aware of any fraud at FTX and had had no reason to question the source of the funds that FTX had provided for financing the aircraft.
In fact, the IAC owner has been referred to as one of the biggest victims in the Bahamas of the crypto fraud that SBF orchestrated.
After the downfall of the crypto exchange, the Embraer Legacy jet was returned by the IAC to the Bahamas to make use of it.
As for Bombardier Global, the company had begun making arrangements to sell the aircraft in order to pay off the outstanding loan.
The company claimed that it had received multiple offers for the aircraft of more than $15 million, but it had been unable to proceed because the jet was seized by the US Marshals Service on February 8th.
Flightradar24, the airplane tracking service, has listed both planes as having ‘private’ owners and no one associated with FTX has used them because they were still being upgraded when the bankruptcy happened.
The IAC has also asked about who would pay for the inspections and repairs until they settle the dispute over the ownership.