To put it mildly, the United States and Iran have a rather strained relationship. Economic dealings between the two nations are almost non-existent.
This is why so many people are extremely puzzled over a photograph of a private jet traced to the Bank of Utah at the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.
It's not a case of mistaken identity.
In the photograph two things are perfectly clear: The tail number of the plane (distinct to airplanes in the way a social security number is to the average person) and a small American flag.
Conspiracy theories attempting to explain the image are abound. They no doubt increased as the United States government has proven reluctant to share exactly how or why the plane was permitted to travel to Iran.
— R.Saddler (@Politics_PR) April 18, 2014
Meanwhile Iranian government officials seemed far more willing to offer an explanation for the plane's presence in their country.
The New York Times is reporting that Iran’s Foreign Ministry revealed on Friday that the plane had been used for transporting Ghanaian officials to Tehran.
This is allegedly all part of an effort to strengthen ties between Ghana and Iran, quite possibly economically.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham was also quick to add that both the passengers and crew were “Non-American”.
Paper Shows U.S.-Flagged Plane in Iran Has Ties to Ghana: The ownership ties between a Utah bank and a Ghanaia... http://t.co/W733W5VA6U
— lifestyle (@lifesty_me) April 19, 2014
Shadowy role of US banks in private aircraft ownership: bank of Utah trustee for mystery US plane in Iran http://t.co/91pblmSA1S
— Naomi Fowler (@Naomi_Fowler) April 19, 2014
The reason offered by the Ministry doesn't explain why an American private jet belonging to trustees at a bank in Utah was used to shuttle high ranking Ghanaian officials to Iran.
The Times was able to get to the bottom of this after accessing a confidential document. The document explained that the plane is held in trust by the Bank of Utah on behalf of the Engineers and Planners company, which is based in Accra, Ghana.
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) April 18, 2014
Since Engineers and Planners is the beneficiary of that trust, they are free to use the plane. In fact Ibrahim Mahama, the company’s CEO, is the brother of Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama.
Despite the story being told by Iran checking out, there is still one final matter left unexplained.
Even if the beneficiaries free to use the plane, there are still numerous sanctions to which the Bank of Utah is bound with regard to the plane's flight to and from Iran.
How they were able to get around these sanctions and allow the beneficiaries to make use of the plane remains a mystery at the moment, though it suggests a possible loophole.
Such a loophole may be why the US government is reluctant to comment on the plane's trip to Iran.
Image via Makik Makine Ltd., Twitter