Air Peace CEO, Allen Onyema, has been allegedly charged with bank fraud and money laundering, the US. Attorney’s office of Northern District of Georgia, is reporting.
Per the report, Onyema is accused of moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts, and this was claimed to have been done through a “scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.”
The report further claimed that Air Peace’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, “has also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.”
Said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of this charges:
“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud. We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”
Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division also commented on the indictment, saying:
“Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.
Thomas J. Holloman, the IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office, also said:
“This case is a prime example of why IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system. With the importance of our banking system to the movement of money around the world, those attempting to use intricate schemes to commit bank fraud through the use of falsified documents and other means should know that the odds are now heavily stacked against them as law enforcement is combining its talents to protect the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s financial system.”
While the acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama added:
“Onyema setup various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam. I’m proud to be part of a team of law enforcement agencies that come together to identify and attack criminals that attempt to profit from the exploitation of our nation’s financial systems.”
The report further claimed:
Beginning in approximately May 2016, Onyema, together with Eghagha, allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace. The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia.
However, the supporting documents were fake — Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist. Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. After Onyema received the money in the United States, he allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.
You can read the rest of the report here.
Air Peace had yet to address this report as at press time.