Kicking Up Suspicion Around True Owners and Purpose (Part 1)
A major scandal is brewing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) where it is revealed that McDan Aviation, claim to be owned by the controversial Daniel McKorley (McDan), does not have an Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to operate commercial jet charter services but has circumvented requirements through political connections.
Checks within the aviation sector reveals McDan Aviation was given a licence to operate a Fix-Base Operate (FBO) but it has since not gone through the required process to acquire an AOC which is prerequisite to operation of a commercial airline in Ghana.
According to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), an AOC is fundamental for any local airline operator. But checks by Whatsup News from insiders at the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) revealed that no such AOC has been issued to McDan and is riding on his political connections to the Jubilee House and also being a financier of the Akufo Addo campaign bulldoze his way through.
In fact, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) explicitly states that “A Ghanaian registered company shall not operate aircraft for commercial air transport unless under and in accordance with the conditions of an Air Operators Certificate (AOC).”
Consequently, a Ghanaian company seeking an AOC from Ghana will need to register its aircraft in its name in Ghana and must be financially sound.
Attempts by Whatsup News to reach Mr. McKorley for verification of these reports have proven futile as he refused to return messages sent to him.
That revelation notwithstanding, tracking of his new aircraft’s movement by Whatsup News reveals that it has already been put into service and had made suspicious flights to the Island country of Cape Verde and the USA.
McDan’s aircraft was spotted at the Aeroporto Internacional Amílcar Cabral on September 13, 2021 around 11.45 pm. The aircraft left Accra at an unknown time.
Shortly, on September 14, 2021, it made a seven-hour hop from Cape Verde to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey-USA, with an unknown cargo or passengers in what has raised serious suspicions among aviation watchers who know how notorious Cape Verde is as a narcotic drug transit point in West Africa.
International drug agencies are very much aware of how Cape Verde is the nexus of narcotic transit from West Africa to Europe and America.
In describing the modus operandi of drug lords using Cape Verde as a transit point, German news network, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported in 2012: “The drug cartels have developed highly sophisticated transport mechanisms. The narcotics are shipped by planes, cargo ships and even submarines to destinations off the West African coast; for example, the Cape Verde Islands. The shipments are then divided into smaller units, repackaged, and sent on their way to Europe.”
There is no evidence that McDan is in any way linked to such a nefarious trade, but the process of registering his aircraft; the use of his political connections at the Terminal 1 to bulldoze his way through and suspicions around the possible true owners of the aircraft is raising some eyebrows among critics.
For instance, investigations by Whatsup News around the registration of McDan’s aircraft show a convoluted trail that aviation watchers have warned is a tell-tale sign of something fishy.
McDan’s aircraft with serial number 5319 was registered in the Isle of Man, a notorious tax haven in the British islands where politicians, business tycoons and drug cartels register their business interests to escape tax regimes in their countries and to launder money.
The Isle of Man is a known money-laundering haven where famous personalities like former US President Donald Trump and Formula One race driver Lewis Hamilton are known to have registered business interests.
Being a tax haven, the Isle of Man also allows registered interest on the island to hide the true owners, which makes it a favourite centre for politicians seeking to hide their amassed wealth from their home countries.
Also, running a trace on the aircraft revealed that it initially had a tail identification of “M-Look” and was under the ownership of the UK-based aerospace company Kessington Limited. But around late August 2021, the aircraft was flown to Farmborough in the UK-a a popular aircraft servicing centre.
On August 23, 2021, the aircraft which had now been given a new tail number “MCDAN” was spotted by aircraft tracking systems doing several hops to Bournemouth, Guernsey and Isle of Man in what is believed to have been part of its registration process.
It finally arrived in Accra on September 7, 2021, from Zurich and by September 13, 2021, it had already started flying to Cape Verde and the USA.
A few days ago, McDan unveiled his newly acquired Bombardier Challenger 604 jetliner reportedly costing some US$ 30 million. The report was gleefully carried by the state-owned newspaper- Daily Graphic, which confirmed that the jetliner will be used as a charter service for third parties, mostly businessmen and corporations.
Already, McDan’s FBO operation which was controversially awarded to him by the Akufo Addo administration has raised protest from some civil society groups as well as the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In an opaque deal, McDan was awarded a contract to handle logistics at the KIA for the US military, even though usually, the US military is forbidden to give such lucrative contracts to politically exposed individuals like McDan.
In February 2020, the Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa announced a plan by the Minority to petition the US against McDan handling logistics for its army because the only agreement Parliament ratified with regards to the use of Terminal 1 of the Airport was for the US military to make use of it and not a private entity.
“What are the terms of that agreement with McDan? Parliament is not aware of any such agreement. What Parliament ratified was a bilateral state-to-state agreement. There was no role for private companies or private entities and so we are alarmed about this revelation,” Okudzeto was quoted as saying.Meanwhile, aside from his political exposure, the Minority’s discomfort also stems from two occasions where McDan has been fingered for using his security company to smuggle in mercenaries to train NPP thugs in combat tactics.
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