An aircraft fleet owned by Google’s founders and former CEO received improper discounts on jet fuel that saved the three billionaires up to $5.3 million dating back to depths of the Great Recession in 2009, according to a government report released Wednesday.
The findings by NASA’s inspector general surfaced during a review of a government airfield lease for seven planes and two helicopters controlled by Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the Internet search company’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt.
The aircraft are managed through a company called H211 set up by the three men through the tremendous wealth that they have accumulated as Google Inc.’s stock price has soared from $85 in 2004 to nearly $1,100. … The H211 aircraft saved somewhere from $3.3 million to $5.3 million beginning in 2009 by buying fuel through an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense at below-market prices that allowed them to avoid state and local taxes, according to the report. The discounts didn’t result in any losses for NASA or the Department of Defense, the report said, but probably deprived the state of California and local government agencies of tax revenue. Other fuel suppliers probably missed out on an opportunity to make money had H211 not worked out the special arrangement with the government.
… “We think it’s pretty outrageous,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. “Basically, it’s just another example of preferential treatment for the Google guys.”
Source: Associated Press