The founder of a company accused of selling bogus jet-engine parts used in aircraft across the globe is a Venezuelan former techno DJ who recently married his wife at a luxurious wedding in Mallorca.
Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala, 35, is the founder of AOG Technics, a London-based company which allegedly supplied parts with forged paperwork that have ended up in at least 126 commercial aircraft engines around the world.
Leading American airlines including Delta and United have been forced to ground planes that were affected by the scandal and a worldwide investigation is underway to identify other aircraft fitted with the suspicious parts. Aircraft in Europe, Australia and China have also been affected.
Pictures uncovered by DailyMail.com of Yrala’s wedding to his wife, Sarah Leddin, 33, in April last year provide the first glimpse of the elusive businessman since the scandal broke out.
Yrala and Leddin tied the knot at an exclusive resort on the Spanish island of Mallorca, in the Mediterranean, in April last year. The couple reportedly wore matching Rolex watches at the wedding, which was joined by dozens of relatives from both Venezuela and Ireland, where Leddin is from.
Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala (right), 35, is the founder of AOG Technics, a London-based company which allegedly supplied aircraft parts with counterfeit paperwork which ended up in at least 126 commercial aircraft engines around the world
Before joining the aviation industry in around 2010, Yrala was a budding techno DJ and music producer who performed under the name Santa Militia (pictured: a promo photograph from his Soundcloud profile)
Before joining the aviation industry in around 2010, Yrala was a budding techno DJ and music producer who performed under the name Santa Militia.
A profile on the artist website Resident Advisor says Yrala started playing techno events in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, in 2005 before relocating to Europe in 2010 and performing in countries including Spain, Italy and the UK.
He is now at the heart of one of the aviation industry’s biggest scandals in recent years.
AOG Technics, which was founded in the UK in 2015, allegedly supplied thousands of parts with false paperwork to other companies which airlines use for aircraft maintenance.
AOG Technics is believed to have invented employees with fake profiles to boost its image and also rented ‘virtual’ offices near Buckingham Palace to give it an exclusive address.
The parts were used in CFM56 engines, the world’s best selling jet engine, which is used in planes including Airbus A320 models and the Boeing 737.
CFM International has now sued AOG in a London court. Yrala has not commented publicly on the scandal and his location is not known.
His wife told Bloomberg, which first reported on the scandal, that the outlet was ‘trying to paint him out to be some bad person or something’.
‘He doesn’t want to talk to anyone because the information is fabricated at best,’ she said.
Yrala began his career in the aviation industry in 2010, when he joined an aircraft engine maintenance firm, AJW, Bloomberg reported. He later joined the UK arm of GA Telesis LLC, a Florida-based aerospace firm, before founding AOG in 2015.
Most of the parts ended up in CFM56 engines, the world’s best selling jet engine, which is used in planes including Airbus A320 models and the Boeing 737
LinkedIn profiles for staff who purportedly worked at AOG Technics include stock images which appear elsewhere on the internet. One profile was for a man named Ray Kwong, who was listed as the company’s chief commercial officer
Kwong’s image is a stock photo which also appears elsewhere on the internet, including on a textiles website which says the man is a ‘factory owner’ named Wang
Bloomberg cited a person familiar with his routine who said Yrala usually worked from home using a platform that connects buyers and sellers of aircraft parts.
Company filings in the UK signed by Yrala show that in 2022, AOG Technics had about $3 million in assets, indicating the scale of the operation.
CFM, the company whose engines have been impacted by the scandal, said there are no reports of counterfeit parts being used. Instead, the issue centers on thousands of parts with suspected false documentation. Some have remained undetected for years.
AOG is accused of selling some of the used parts as brand new, netting a huge profit while threatening the safety of passengers on jets fitted with affected engines.
In one case, paperwork accompanying the sale of a key component called a low-pressure turbine to a Florida company in 2019 was signed by a man named ‘Geoffrey Chirac’, who is thought to be a non-existent employee of AOG Technics.
According to CFM court documents, the alarm was first raised on June 21 when TAP Air Portugal’s maintenance arm said it was worried about the documentation for a small part called a damper that it had acquired from AOG Technics.
‘The part appeared to be older than represented,’ CFM said.
The birth certificate that must accompany every aerospace part contained a false signature, it said in a court filing setting out the scale of the detective operation.
Within 20 days, according to CFM, the same airline had found 24 forms from the same seller with ‘significant discrepancies’.
AOG told a UK court last month it was ‘fully co-operating’ with investigations without commenting on CFM’s claims.
The company boosted its image by using a ‘virtual’ office in central London just a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace. In reality, AOG Technics has no physical presence there and appears simply to have rented a mailing address for as little as $150-per-month
Filings show the company was launched in 2015 and was initially listed at a residential address in the seaside town of Hove, in southern England
LinkedIn profiles for staff who purportedly worked at AOG Technics include stock images which appear elsewhere on the internet, including in promotional material for other business. Many of the LinkedIn accounts have now been deleted.
One profile was for a man named Ray Kwong, who was listed as the company’s chief commercial officer. Kwong listed previous experience at Mitsubishi and Nissan, but neither has been able to confirm he was employed with them.
His photo shows a gray-haired man in a smart shirt with a striped blue tie. The same image also appears on other webpages – including one for a textiles company who claims the man is a ‘factory owner’ called Wang.
Another employee was listed on LinkedIn as Martina Spencer, supposedly an account manager for AOG Technics. Her picture appears to be another stock photo of a woman whose image has also been used in an Amazon listing for women’s reading glasses.
The company also boosted its image by using a ‘virtual’ office in central London just a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace.
Business filings in the UK reveal the company’s first official address was a small house in the seaside town Hove, in southern England. It then occupied a second residential buildings in Hove before relocating to London in 2017 and eventually settling at The Nova Building.
While developers of aircraft parts are strictly regulated, and separate approval is needed to produce them, no formal permission is needed to set up warehouses to distribute them.
The scandal raises serious questions about industry procedures designed to prevent unapproved parts making their way into aircraft.
Phil Seymour, president of UK-based aviation consultancy IBA, said: ‘This is not a new issue in the industry. There have always been people wanting to make money out of aircraft parts.
‘The big issue here is that these parts have found their way into engines; that’s the game-changer for me.’