The US Indicts 10 for Defrauding Airline, 9 Arrested

A U.S. court charged ten people on Wednesday in connection with a massive scheme to defraud Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, a leading cargo airline, of tens of millions of dollars in revenue and the honest services of its employees.

Polar Air Cargo PlaneBoeing aircraft belonging to Polar Air Cargo in the process of taxiing. (Photo: Steve Knight, Flickr, License)The suspects either held high-level positions at Polar or were vendors reliant on business arrangements with the company. The scheme allegedly involved a complex set of frauds that tainted nearly every aspect of Polar’s operations and cost the cargo airline an estimated US$52 million in losses, said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

Four senior executives of the cargo airline allegedly agreed to accept millions in kickbacks from six vendors and also reaped substantial financial benefits from their secret ownership interests in certain Polar vendors. In exchange, they made sure that those vendors received favorable business arrangements with the company.

According to the indictment, the fraud allegedly led to pervasive corruption of Polar’s business, touching nearly every aspect of the company’s operations for over a decade. The suspects are accused of using various deceitful methods that were detrimental to Polar, all for their own personal financial gain, said FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll.

Nine of the ten defendants were arrested Wednesday, one of them in Thailand and his extradition to the U.S. is pending. The tenth, Skye Xu, remains at large.

The ten were charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The charges against them included conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud.