Despite a June 22 press release naming Scott Hopes as CEO of AeroVanti he has yet to assume the position, with founder Britton-Harr remaining in control.
The saga at AeroVanti continues as multiple sources tell Private Jet Card Comparisons that Scott Hopes has still not taken the CEO role at the troubled private flight provider despite a press release saying he had been appointed to the position.
Sources say Founder Patrick Britton-Harr remains in control of the company in terms of ownership and management.
Since May, the Annapolis, Maryland, and Sarasota, Florida, private jet membership company has been hit with five lawsuits.
Clients claim losses of more than $15 million.
Ryan C. Wagner of WLG Firm in Ft. Lauderdale, who filed the first pair of actions, said at the time, “Based on the information and documentation that was discovered, and continues to be discovered, the activities and misappropriation of funds related to AeroVanti’s Top Gun Membership, are hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.”
A June 22 press release published on Businesswire stated that AeroVanti “has named Dr. Scott Hopes as its new Chief Executive Officer.”
The release went on to read, “As CEO, Hopes will use his senior leadership experience to drive the direction of the company, focusing on sustainable membership growth, fleet expansion, and delivering an exceptional member experience.”
It continued, “Hopes succeeds Patrick Britton-Harr…Britton-Harr will remain at AeroVanti as founder and chairman, where he will oversee business development and strategic partnerships.”
The announcement quoted Hopes as saying, “I’m honored to take over as CEO of this innovative organization.”
Britton-Harr added, “AeroVanti is poised for phenomenal growth, and Dr. Hopes is an excellent leader to have at the helm.”
Yet a story by the Florida Business Observer on Tuesday reported, “…as of July 11, that leader, Scott Hopes, says he has yet to officially start at the company.”
In an interview with the business website, Hopes is quoted as saying, “I’m not being paid yet. It has been agreed to but not executed…I have the keys to the building, but I don’t have access to the bank accounts.”
The Business Observer added Hopes “was scheduled to meet with Britton-Harr July 12 in the New Jersey offices of Network 1 Securities Financial, an investment firm that has helped AeroVanti secure funding. He says he hoped to have more direction on his role and information on the company after that meeting.”
While the meeting did take place, and both Hopes and Britton-Harr attended, we are told Hopes left the meeting without finalizing his agreement to be CEO.
Further, it is understood he has yet to be briefed on the financials.
Hopes did not respond to a request for comment.
However, people familiar with the meeting said there is currently no timetable to move forward with Hopes, although that remains the intention.
It’s also unclear how much investment will be needed, although one source estimated it would take around $20 million of fresh capital.
Last year AeroVanti claimed to have scored $100 million in financing; however, that appears untrue.
It’s also not known what role Network 1 Securities will play.
A Sept. 2022 article by Bloomberg about the firm reported, “Network 1 has a history of run-ins with regulators. It has been censured for breaches ranging from a failure to develop written anti-money laundering programs to a lack of policies to detect suspicious transactions and insider trading.”
Describing the company, the reporters wrote, “Fifty miles south of midtown Manhattan, in a red brick building bounded by a railway track, sits a little-known brokerage behind some of the world’s wildest initial public offerings.”
Last year, Network 1 underwrote six microcap IPOs that jumped on average by 2,190% on their first day of trading, according to the article.
It noted, “That’s more than 250 times the performance of offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley.”
As of this evening, AeroVanti’s website remains offline, and several members say they have been unable to reach their contacts and stay unable to book flights.
Updated July 13 at 10:05 pm: Two employees have confirmed to Private Jet Card Comparisons they and others still have not been paid since the beginning of June when the company sent an email to employees saying it did not have funds to meet payroll.
Despite the lawsuits, missed payrolls, and its website being down for more than a week, AeroVanti remains listed as a marketing partner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on its website.
In the lawsuits, members allege their funds were diverted from buying airplanes to high-profile sponsorships, including the NFL team, Chicago Cubs, and US Sailing.