Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The United States Department of Justice’s Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, has charged Air Peace Chairman/CEO Allen Onyema with money laundering, bank fraud and financial scams.
According to a statement released by the Attorney General’s Office in Georgia, Onyema, along with his airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has been charged to court for falsifying documents and money laundering.
Onyema and Eghagha were accused of moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through US banks in a scheme ‘involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.”
The two Air Peace chiefs were investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce and the Department of Treasury.
Assistant US Attorneys Garrett L Bradford, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section and Lead Strike Force Attorney, Irina K Dutcher, and Christopher J Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs.
“Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, were indicted on November 19, 2019, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud, and three counts of credit application fraud. Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
“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,” said US Attorney Byung J “BJay” Pak.
Onyema has denied wrongdoing, saying the allegations are false and that the US government will find no dirt because he has never conducted business with any illegalities.
He said he has never laundered money no committed bank fraud anywhere in the world as all the funds transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose.
“I can confirm to you that all allegations are false and are in no way in line with my character as a person and as a business man whose only aim has been to build Nigeria and improve wellbeing.
”As the press statement clearly stated, these are indictments that only contains charges. I am innocent of all charges and the US government will find no dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.
”Be rest assured that I also have my lawyers on this and these mere allegations will be refuted.
I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every kobo I transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose. The American companies that received the funds are still in business. I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts,” Onyema said.