Sascha Schornstein

Did missing pilot fake his own death? Police investigate after finding no trace of German banker's body in plane that crashed into the English Channel
•Sascha Schornstein, 36, has not been seen since crash on July 21
•His Russian wife Yulia has appealed for funds to pay for submarine search
•She said she could not think of a reason why her husband would vanish
•Police are treating case as missing person's in
quiry and keeping 'open mind'

By Chris Greenwood for the Daily Mail

Published: 15:25 EST, 29 July 2013 | Updated: 01:30 EST, 30 July 2013

Police are investigating whether a wealthy banker whose plane crashed in the English Channel faked his own death.

Sascha Schornstein, 36, has not been seen since his single-engine small aircraft came down off the coast of Kent.

Investigators pulled a small amount of wreckage from the sea but have found no trace of the financier’s body.

They insist that the apparent tragedy remains a ‘missing person’s inquiry’ as they keep an ‘open mind’ over what took place.

Officers have released a photograph of Mr Schornstein, a keen diver and sailor, in case he has been spotted since he boarded the plane.

They declined to reveal the results of checks on his bank accounts, credit cards and mobile phones that could indicate if he is still alive.

Yesterday, his wife Yulia, 28, appealed for up to £30,000 to help her solve the mystery of his disappearance.

She said her German husband, who worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland, was a methodical and careful man and she cannot understand what happened.

Fighting back tears, she revealed she wants to raise the money to pay for a submarine to find the missing wreckage after the official search was called off.

She said: ‘I have to know what happened. I know Sascha was very responsible.

‘Flying was his passion and he was German and had that attention to detail so I’m sure that in that situation something unexpected must have happened.

‘I’m a little scared of flying but he always took me and I always felt comfortable and we went to France and Germany and he was always well prepared.’

Mrs Schornstein, who is originally from St Petersburg in Russia, added that she did not know why her husband would vanish.

Yulia Schornstein fought back tears as she spoke to the media today to appeal for help with the search

Yulia Schornstein said she needs money to finance a search for her missing husband Sascha

Mr Schornstein's wife Yulia has appealed for help with the search and said she could not think of a reason as to why her husband, a banker with the Royal Bank of Scotland, would go missing

She said: ‘We are very happy and money was not a problem. There are really no problems. He was very busy at work and he was working one night until 4am.

‘He often stayed late in the office and was working on something that was going to finish in July and we were going on holiday to France in August for my birthday.’

Mrs Schornstein has launched a website asking for donations to help fund her search. She believes an onboard recorded could help solve the mystery.

Last night wellwishers had already given more than £3,000 towards her target.

Mr Schornstein disappeared on July 21 as his Cirrus plane crashed about 15 miles off the coast of Dungeness, Kent.

The banker, who lived in a £850,000 Knightsbridge apartment, worked for RBS in its commodity finance department.

He had been living in London since 2001 and was a graduate of the London School of Economics.

He had logged a flight plan before taking off from Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire on route to the coastal town of Le Touquet in France.

An extensive search by the British and French authorities in water 50m deep led to the recovery of between 10 and 15 per cent of the aircraft.

Yulia Schornstein said she and her husband Sascha were 'happy' and said 'money was not a problem' for the banker

There has been no sign of Sascha Schornstein or his emergency parachute since the crash on July 21

Officials found parts of the wings, fuselage and doors but there is no sign of an emergency parachute or Mr Schornstein.

The American-registered aircraft was rented by Mr Schornstein, who married his wife - who works in the hotel industry - 18 months ago.

Sgt Andy Thomas, of Hampshire Police, said: ‘In the simplest terms because we have not found Sascha, this is a missing person inquiry.

‘Although it would appear he has been involved in an accident, we are keeping all lines of inquiry open.’

The officer said that at the moment there is nothing to suggest Mr Schornstein would have faked a crash and disappeared.

He added that it was not unusual to find more of the wreckage and that the task of locating the main part of the plane had been very difficult.

This map shows the intended flight path of the aircraft and the spot where it crashed in the Channel

This map shows the intended flight path of the aircraft and the spot where it crashed in the Channel

Sgt Thomas said: ‘I’m keeping an open mind as to what has happened to Mr Schornstein.

“We’re releasing a picture of him in case he has been spotted since, or if anyone else has important information that can assist us.

‘We are now conducting a missing person investigation and are working with international police as part of our inquiries.’

Officials from the Air Accident Investigation Branch are also examining what caused the aircraft to come down. The weather on the day was clear and fine.

An RBS spokesman said: ‘I can confirm that an employee of RBS is currently presumed missing following a plane crash.

‘’We are working with the authorities to understand the current situation and we are in contact with his family to ensure they receive our full support at this difficult time.’

comment from site:
How can they say they don't think he is dead when they haven't even found the main body of the plane yet?

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook