Now we can reveal that authoritative information we have assembled so far shows that ownership of the jet President Joyce Banda has been using on her recent sojourns points to Paramount Group.
There is also strong evidence that the jet President Banda is using is the same one former president Bingu wa Mutharika was using, but which she sold mid this year ostensibly to cut costs—a move that won her international applauds as the epitome of prudential executive leadership.
Information Nation on Sunday had retrieved from LAASDATA.COM, (http://www.laasdata.com/) which calls itself the aviation enthusiast’s website for its prowess in tracking down aircrafts globally, shows the various changes in the details of the jet in question as it changed ownership over time.
The website says the jet’s current registration is ZS-FCI, describes the aircraft type as Dassault Falcon 900EX and its serial number as 38.
Significantly, the website says the jet’s immediate past registration is 7Q-ONE—the number that was assigned to the presidential jet that Mutharika was using—and that before it changed hands to Malawi, its registration was N901MD/N68CG.
Paramount/Fortune Air Fleet (http://www.fortuneair.co.za/services.html), which Nation on Sunday investigations show operates the jet, is a company linked to Paramount Group, the firm that is the beneficiary of the President’s lucrative arms deal and sponsor of her now cancelled public relations arrangement with Bell Pottinger.
The information comes a week after the presidency said the jet was provided by ‘well-wishers’ without strings attached, an assertion analysts dismissed, arguing that the so-called well-wishers have their reasons for supporting the President.
As the arms and public relations deals show, Paramount Group is not in town to provide free lunches.
The jet is a Falcon 900 EX, registration number ZS-FCI.
It is currently on sale and being advertised by South Africa brokers, Wentworth & Affiliates Incorporated.
It appears on an online pilot shop AVCOM after being photographed at a privately owned international airport north of Randburg and Sandton in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Found this new addition to the RSA register ZS-FCI Falcon 900 EX ex-Malawi Presidential Jet, another one of the Paramount/Fortune Air Fleet,” reads a caption of the jet on http://www.avcom.co.za.
Full details and pictures of the plane are found on http://www.wentworth.aero which advertises the aircraft as having an excellent pedigree and maintenance.
The website details the Falcon as having the following features: aviator 350 swift broadband Internet with wi-fi, maintained by Dassault, La Bourget France; gross weight increase mod, aircell axxess flight phone, forward crew Lau, low utilisation and fresh paint.
Presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane refused to comment on the matter when contacted on Wednesday.
But Nhlane last week said the plane belonged to the President’s well-wishers.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported last month that the Ichikowitz Family Foundation—a subsidiary of Paramount Group—was paying British public relations firm Bell Pottinger to help rebuild President Banda’s image and in particular to regain donor confidence after the cashgate fallout.
The Daily Telegraph dug further and found that Banda has commissioned seven interceptor boats from Paramount Group which will be fitted with arms to patrol Lake Malawi; a deal critics say did not follow Malawi’s procurement processes.
As well as taking orders for military hardware, Ichikowitz, according to the paper, through a private equity firm called Trans Africa Capital, is also understood to have signed agriculture and fuel contracts with the Malawi Government.
British Virgin Islands Company’s Bohnox Enterprise Limited was the one government said bought the plane from Malawi at $15 million, $5 million less than what it was initially valued. It is not clear how the jet ended up in the Fortune Air fleet.