Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has created a series of conversations on social media regarding Bank of Utah’s aircraft owner trust business. These conversations focus on allegations that Bank of Utah has provided trust services for Russian oligarchs.
Two different situations are being discussed.
First, a 2017 New York Times article has resurfaced, tying Bank of Utah to a Russian oligarch. This dated article refers to an aircraft trust that was terminated several years ago. Second, rumors are circulating that a U.S. citizen, who is being categorized as a Russian oligarch, is averting sanctions by using an owner trust held by Bank of Utah.
We affirm that, in all instances, all U.S. laws and regulations have been followed and that Bank of Utah has no relationship with any Russian state-owned entity, nor does Bank of Utah provide financing or lending on any aircraft that are held in trust. Bank of Utah follows standards that are mandated by the highly regulated banking industry, and adheres to all laws and regulations regarding the people and companies with whom it does business.
Bank of Utah cannot discuss aircraft owner trust agreements, except with proper government authorities per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and federal banking regulations. However, we can assure you that Bank of Utah does not do business with sanctioned entities. The list of sanctioned entities is continually monitored and updated. If an entity becomes sanctioned, Bank of Utah works diligently with the U.S. government to freeze the account, then follows the government’s direction regarding further actions.
More About Aircraft Trusts
Aircraft owner trusts play an important role in business aviation. Trusts have been well-recognized by the FAA for more than 50 years and are highly regulated to ensure that America’s interests always come first.
As an aircraft owner trustee, Bank of Utah enters into an aircraft lease agreement where the lessee operates the aircraft, much like a car is leased. As such, Bank of Utah does not have operational control of the aircraft, even though Bank of Utah, as trustee, is listed in public records. The Bank transfers that control to an operator or lessee through a written agreement. In fact, many of the aircraft operated by commercial airlines are owned through owner trusts and subsequently leased to the airline.